A surprising proportion of Americans are really excited about flying cars

flying car
Promo image America's Independent Electric Light and Power Companies

Peter Thiel complained that “We wanted flying cars, instead we got 140 characters.” It’s true; we have been promised flying cars forever. According to Michael Sivak and Brandon Schoettle of the University of Michigan Sustainable Worldwide Transportation, they might be just around the corner. They write in their latest report, A survey of public opinion about flying cars:

Until recently, flying cars have existed primarily in the realm of science fiction, although patents for such vehicles extend to the early years of aviation. However, recently there has been a rapid increase in interest in flying cars from companies ranging from large, international manufacturers to a variety of start-ups.

Back to the futureWhere we're going, we don't need roads./Screen capture

TreeHugger is a big fan of the work of Sivak and Schoettle and if they say flying cars are a thing, we take it seriously. They note that beside all the technological and regulatory issues, “a big unknown is what consumers think of the concept of flying cars, and what the desirable parameters are for such a novel approach to mobility.” So they did a survey.

interest© UMTRI

The results are fascinating; two thirds of those surveyed were familiar with the concept, and the baby boomers are particularly enthusiastic, particularly if they are self-driving. Of course, it is the boomers who have been promised flying cars since they were kids.

the Jetsons© The Jetsons

Most people apparently want 400 mile range, seating for 4 and many people are excited by them, particularly in the 18-29 year old group. But the baby boomers are not far behind, with a 23 percent of them willing to spend between $ 100K and $ 200K for the privilege.

They did not ask any questions about the environmental worries about flying cars, about the amount of energy that it actually will take to keep them up in the air. The majority surveyed want them to be electric, which I suppose everyone assumes in our future will be clean electricity made from renewable resources and will be too cheap to meter. Ten percent want their flying car to be solar powered.

The overall conclusion from the findings is that, despite the fact that most Americans are very concerned about the safety of flying cars, most would still ultimately like to use them.

I personally wish that all these engineers and geniuses would figure out how to make bikes work safely for everyone in our cities instead of concentrating on flying cars, but as we note in an earlier post on flying cars, “we love grand visions at TreeHugger, we are happy utopians at heart.”

But it is really surprising to see such a large percentage of the population, of all ages and sexes, so positive about such a crazy idea.

Tags: Transportation


treehugger slideshows