Flying cars will be widely available in cities by 2030, according to comments made by Hyundai executive Michael Cole to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders. Hyundai is actively developing a flying taxi concept with Uber and is one among many with bullish views of a not-so-distant future sky filled with flying cars. If all this sounds vaguely familiar, that’s because it is. Promises of flying cars “within the next 10 years” have been made then broken for the past 70 years. If you really want to fly to work, buy a helicopter (and learn to fly it). Let’s take a look at some other areas of innovation that are a little more grounded.
Volvo is the latest automaker to unveil plans for its next generation electric vehicle fleet. It looks a lot like a regular gas-powered car fleet—in the best possible way. The near-term future is, essentially, any car you could buy now comes with an all-electric version, including that classic American monument to the internal combustion engine: the Ford F-150
Many new cars already have some form of assisted driving, a kind of beefed up cruise control. Teslas come with an Autopilot feature, already notorious for its abuse by a handful of drivers and at least nine fatal accidents. Nevertheless, various forms of the technology are quickly becoming standard, and it should be noted that non-assisted drivers are still the biggest danger on the road. If only we could remove the driver from the car…
Self-driving vehicles are where the real innovation is taking place. Replacing drivers with a safety-focused self-driving system, like this one from Waymo, has the potential to save some 38,000 lives a year (the average number of car accident deaths in the US). Removing the driver unlocks all kinds of other possibilities, too. Take out the steering wheel, pedals, shifter. Better yet, let’s start from scratch.
This robotaxi by Zoox is one idea that results from a safety and passenger-first design. It demonstrates the opportunity for real game-changing innovation that comes with autonomous driving. You can keep the flying cars. I want a car that drives itself.
Credit: New York Public Library
Make sure to see this excellent photo essay on the history and design of Central Park, Frederick Law Olmsted’s inspired masterpiece of landscape architecture.
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