Why does this keep happening? Every year we get at least one breathless article about a new flying car that’s just completed some milestone and will be swarming in the skies in two years. But they won’t. Because they never do. Even worse, we’re still seeing these articles about flying cars that are absolutely in no way flying cars. Like this not-flying car, from SkyDrive, that just completed a successful test with a driver of not being a flying car.
SkyDrive did a successful test of its SD-03 “flying car,” which, you may cleverly note, has no wheels and is in no way capable of driving on a road like a car. It flies, yes, but can’t drive, so no, it’s not a “flying car,” it’s a small (the world’s smallest, it seems) electric vertical take off and landing (VTOL) aircraft.
It’s basically a big drone you can sit in:
Now, yes, this is very cool, and the technology behind it is impressive. Here’s what the press release tells us:
It measures a compact two meters high by four meters wide and four meters long and requires only as much space on the ground as two parked cars. The powertrain consists of electric motors that drive rotors deployed in four locations, with each location housing two rotors that individually rotate in opposite directions, each driven by its own motor. The use of eight motors is a means of ensuring safety in emergency situations during flight and as such aims to address compliance standards and allay potential regulatory concerns.
Okay, impressive, sure, though there’s no information about the range of the thing. While SkyDrive likes to talk about the design in drippy, grand terms:
SkyDrive’s flying car has been designed to be a coupe embodying dreams and exuding charisma, such that it will be welcomed into people’s lives and used naturally. The main exterior color of the SD-03 is pearl white, which was chosen to represent white birds and the floating clouds in the sky of users’ future. The company hopes that its aircraft will become people’s partner in the sky rather than merely a commodity and it will continue working to design a safe sky for the future as a partner in the sky.
...it does kind of gloss over a pretty big aspect of the design:
With the striking SkyDrive emblem fitted on the front, the SD-03’s visual design expresses the dynamism of a pair of propellers rising up into the sky of the future, working in tandem.
Yeah, those dynamism-expressing, open propellers are big enough that even if this thing is only two parked cars wide, there’s no way you’re going to be able to just land this thing in a parking lot full of people, any of whom could be instantly Cuisinarted by an errant step into one of those eight swirling blades.
Sure, it’s cool that a drone big enough to carry a person can be built and works, but who’s this going to be for? Air taxi services? Private ownership? I mean, maybe but this still requires a bunch of training and skill and infrastructure that is wildly different from car-driving skills and infrastructure.
It’s a new, cool kind of helicopter, not a car you can get in and drive and then decide to fly.
SkyDrive says the SD-03 will be available by 2023, which fits the usual flying car bullshit of being perpetually about two years away, forever and always.
Maybe flying cars will one day happen. But when they do, I don’t think they’ll really be anything like this, which is fine, because, again, this is not a flying car.
Well, maybe someone will prove me wrong with a picture of their Toyota Corolla with skids instead of wheels that they scrape sparkily to work every day, but until then, I’m standing by my position here.