OK, so an engineer solves the last technical problems of flying cars. Seeing that most of the non-technical objections against flying cars are about the ability to drive, and the fact that self-driving cars are all the rage, he decides to make his flying cars self-flying, that is, you don't operate it yourself but only tell the autopilot where to go. To deal with the high cost, he decides to cooperate with Uber to offer a flying taxi service, and selling a few privately owned cars to the rich.

My question is: Could this flying car business be a success? And if so, how would this affect society?

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    $\begingroup$ ...flying cars are a cool concept but...it would be easier to just slap the logo from the vehicle of your choice on the front of a helicopter. I guess what I am trying to say is, how are flying cars different than choppers? $\endgroup$
    – James
    Jan 8 '16 at 19:43

I'm pretty sure this is the only way flying cars would fly any time soon.
And a lot of it will depend on what is decided with self driving cars in the next couple years.

Currently they are debating on if a self driving car will need to have a driver who is constantly ready to take over if needed.
If that's what they decide then you might need to have to have a licensed pilot in the car at all times.

Self flying cars would probably be easier than self driving cars, as there are less things to run into at altitude, except occasional birds.
With VTOL you remove the need for runways, so long as there is a large enough open space or clearing.

Another thing that will decide if your business is a success is range and cost.
It would most likely be more expensive to travel in than a ground car, but would have to be less than a traditional aircraft.

Once people got over the safety fears, it would probably be pretty popular for medium range trips for those that could afford it.

  • $\begingroup$ Who is "they"? Sounds like some kind of legislation which could vary country-to-country $\endgroup$ Jan 8 '16 at 21:37
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    $\begingroup$ @DoubleDouble All I know about is legislation in the US, and currently it's being decided state by state. Last I heard, there are 4 states that explicitly allow automated cars on the road for testing and development. Google announced a car without steering wheel and peddles, and then California passed a bill saying that self driving cars needed those so a human could take charge. At some point in the future when the technology is baked, the federal government will probably step in and pass national laws allowing it, otherwise it'll slowly happen state by state. $\endgroup$
    – AndyD273
    Jan 8 '16 at 21:46
  • $\begingroup$ On further reading, a few European countries and the UK have made it possible to test automated cars on public roads in some areas. It is something that each country will have to decide on. $\endgroup$
    – AndyD273
    Jan 8 '16 at 21:48
  • $\begingroup$ One of the biggest legal issues they will have to work out is, what happen in the case of a death? Who is at fault? In a normal car the driver is at fault, but in a self driving car that may not be the case. If the car as at fault, does that mean the manufacturer is at fault? So if my self driving car hits someone, does Google/Tesla/GM get sued for reckless endangerment? $\endgroup$
    – AndyD273
    Jan 8 '16 at 21:51

These guys seem to to think it has merit!

It's supposed to be entirely self flying and you set a destination and it flies you there. If it makes it passed the FAA or is somehow integrated, I think it would be a huge success, depending on the overall costs. If I could afford one, I'd buy it in a heartbeat. I live 29 hwy miles from my work. I'd even do a self driving car to give me and extra hour to do other things than concentrate on the road.

The linked in article above goes into how the 'car' would be in control, know it's destination and would try to land safely in case of any kind of emergency that might endanger the passenger. Granted this could lead to interesting kidnapping schemes should the person be important, but with good protocols I would expect them to become permanent taxi's. Always flying to pick people up and drop them off. Not everyone would need an FAA license then, only those 'running' the machines.

  • $\begingroup$ It's supposed to last 23 minutes going 60mph - that would get me to work, but not back home. That said, it's still cool. Just not having to pay attention + no waiting for traffic would be awesome. Too bad there's so many hurdles before that can be something that happens soon. $\endgroup$ Jan 8 '16 at 21:44
  • $\begingroup$ @DoubleDouble exactly! But if you have a charger or whatever at work, you can be ready to come home later! $\endgroup$
    – bowlturner
    Jan 8 '16 at 21:49

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