Future Tech: Flying cars

Will we ever see a real-life flying Delorean? T3 investigates...

Future questions answered, definitively

We’ve all been waiting for certain tech to be invented and, largely thanks to Hollywood, our hopes have been built and built but constantly dashed. So fed up without any actual answers, we’ve took it upon ourselves to answer 10 of the classic tech questions once and for all.

Yesterday, we examined the possibility of driverless cars ever making it onto our roads. For today's future tech question we ask: Will we ever see a flying car?

What's the big idea?

Where the automobile is going, we don't need roads - at least not all the time. Designs for flying cars have been trying (and failing) to take off for decades, but from next year, you'll be able to buy your own for around £160,000.

What's happening?

The current frontrunner in the race for the skies is US firm Terrafugia. It describes its vehicle, the Transition, more as a 'roadable aircraft' than a flying car. Looking a bit like a winged Reliant Robin, the Transition cruises at 93kts (105mph) and upon landing, its 8m wings fold up to be stowed at the side of the vehicle.

Classed as a light sports aircraft across the pond, the idea is that you drive it home straight from the airport. To do that from Stansted or any other UK airport, the vehicle will first need a Certificate of Airworthiness. “All new aircraft designs have to be approved by the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) for operation within the EU,” says Richard Taylor, a spokesman for the UK's Civil Aviation Authority.

What's the hold up?

Assuming the Transition or any other flying car meets all of the technical requirements for flight, we'd still need a monumental shake-up of the way the skies are policed before we could all travel to work in one. “The Rules of the Air, essentially the highway code for aviation, states that aircraft are not allowed to fly within 1,000ft of the highest fixed point in an urban settlement or within 500ft of a person, vehicle or structure in open countryside. The ability of a flying car to safely ‘see and avoid’ other aircraft and abide by the Rules of the Air have to be seriously questioned.”

When could it happen?

The technology is ready to go, but it's going to be stuck in a holding pattern until at least mid-century before anyone lands a flying car at home.

Timeline: 2050

Stay tuned to T3.com for more future tech questions answered

- Future Tech: Will we ever see driverless cars?