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Why you shouldn’t get too excited about flying cars just yet

AeroMobil displays its latest flying car prototype, in Monaco in April 2017. The company planned to accept first preorders in late 2017. (AP Photo/Claude Paris)

Bellyaching about traffic is our regional pastime, no doubt about that. I think they should change the state motto to “Traffic Sucks,” but I digress. Are you ready for flying cars? The CEO of Boeing told Geekwire that self-flying cars are less than five years away. If you’re like me and grew up on a steady diet of The Jetsons cartoons, your knee jerk reaction is probably, “heck yes!”

But let’s settle down and think about this for a second.

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How is this going to work exactly? Did Dennis Muilenburg of Boeing say self-flying cars? As in the car is flying itself? Can I back my answer down to “Oh heck no”?

I’m as adventurous as the next guy, but I’m having a hard time envisioning hopping into a car with no driver that flies. Think about that for a minute. You and your significant other are headed out to the Beyoncé and Jay-Z show. You summon a flying taxi on your phone, and it lands in front of your house or down the block or on some landing pad nearby. I don’t know exactly how that part is going to work. There’s a lot of power lines on my street. I don’t know where the thing is going to land, but let’s just assume that they figure that part out.

Then, you’re supposed to hop into this vehicle with nobody at the controls, and it will then fly you automatically over to the football stadium, land, and you safely jump out to enjoy the show.

I’m a bit suspicious. I can see myself getting into a self-driving car. Seems like the worst that can happen would be a fender bender at city speeds. But a car that flies? If anything goes wrong, you would drop to the ground like a piano from whatever altitude they establish in their three-dimensional highway that Dennis is talking about.

But let’s assume that they have that part figured out as well. I mean this is the president of Boeing. I doubt he would make such a bold proclamation if the prototypes weren’t promising.

So let’s say this happens. Boeing invents a flying, self-driving car. They get approval for their three-dimensional highway.
These things go to market. At what price point would you jump in on this?

Right now a new Tesla goes from $70,000 to over $135,000. Obviously, there are cars that cost more than that. Are you going to pay a few hundred thousand dollars to fly to work after dropping your kids off at school? Imagine the judgmental looks when your flying car lands at soccer practice.

If you think people like complaining about traffic now, wait until there are cars and taxis and cargo vehicles flying overhead at all hours of the day and night. I guarantee that the bellyaching will reach new heights, but because I was a Jetson’s kid, I can’t wait to see it.

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