The thing most disappointing to life-long technophiles is that the flying car we have always dreamt of never came.
In many ways we far exceeded the dreams of futurists past. The modern smart phone is vastly more powerful and capable than anyone could have predicted and the modern internet is a phenomenon way beyond prediction.
Some things which were predicted did come to pass – Dick Tracy’s wrist radio (Apple – and Android – watch) and Star Trek’s universal translator (Google translate) for example. But no flying car.
At least not until now. At CES this week Chinese company EHang showcased the EHang 184, a human-sized drone designed to take it’s owner at 60 mph for 23 minutes completely automatically. Obviously there are many, many hurdles to overcome before anyone will actually be able to fly such a device in open sky. But it it does seem to me that this might just be part of the future.
You only have to watch a movie like The Fifth Element to realise the hopeless impracticality of allowing humans to drive things in three dimensions. But maybe it’s the coming of self-driving cars which will finally allow the flying car to become a reality. If computers can reliably and safely drive us around in two dimensions, why not let them branch out into three. The frameworks necessary to allow self-driving cars to become a reality on our roads would, on the face of it, seem relatively simple to extend to the corridors of sky, too.
So, although EHang seems ridiculously optimistic at the moment, maybe the company is on to something.