Here Comes the Jetsons

Here Comes the Jetsons

Meet the Jetsons, an animated series in 1962-1963, showcased a family living in the distant future.  The family members traveled from place to place using automated flying vehicles.  The show represents our human dream and aspiration to have self-driving vehicles taking us anywhere we want to go.

The first flying car patent was filed in 1918. (Source: www.flightglobal.com)  In 1917, aviator Glenn Curtiss unveiled the first aluminum Autoplane powered by a four-blade propeller at the rear.  Only six were built but none went into production.  In 1949, inventor Molt Taylor successfully flew in 1949 his Aerocar.  (Source: www.caradvice.com) Recently in 2020, a Slovakia company named Klein Vision, developed its first flying car named AirCar works: “drivers use the steering wheel to glide up and down by pulling the wheel in several directions…the wings then pop out of the sides and the aircraft boosts to the air…with four to eighteen rotors keeping <the vehicle> aloft.  Most are fixed-wing craft with propellers that point upwards for vertical takeoff and landing and tilt forward for flight.” (Source: www.autoevolution.com)  On August 22, 2020, Klein Vision sold its first flying car for $1.2M.      

Numerous flying cars have been developed in the 20th century without commercial success so far (Source: www.caradvice.com):  

  • In 2017, Chinese car manufacturer Geely bought flying car developer Terrafugia in an attempt to produce a commercial vehicle by 2021
  • In 2020, Mercedes-Benz invested in flying taxi and drone company, Volocopter.
  • Last year, Porsche and Boeing joined together for an “urban air mobility: project.
  • Uber, through its Uber Elevation business group, is developing its own high-flying shuttle service, UberAir.

So, why is it taking so long for flying cars to reach the market?  This is due to regulatory hurdles and design challenges.  For example, in August 2020, New Hampshire became the first US state to legalize flying cars “so long as they conform with Federal Aviation Administration rules, are flown by a licensed pilot, and only take-off and land at airports…” (Source: www.flightglobal.com)  The latter limits the dream of having a flying car “driving along the freeway and before rising into the sky above the traffic.”  Most of the initial testing will initially avoid heavily urbanized areas.  For instance, Volocopter plans “to provide coastal flights around Singapore and Lilium’s push to serve 10 boutique hubs across Florida.” (Source: www.bloomberg.com) The government also provides support like in the UK, Altitude Angel will tap the air-traffic management system to allow operators to safely transit cities.  Federal Aviation Administration head Steve Dickson told a House Appropriation subcommittee hearing in May 2021 that he expects advanced urban aircraft to be approved in the US by 2023 with the first flight taking place the next year.