Flying-car ambition soars, but the r&d is fledgling
Engineers love to talk about the car of the future. It will run on hydrogen, communicate telepathically with other cars, anticipate and avoid accidents -- even drive itself. And so a new era of comfort and convenience promised in the 1950s will finally arrive.
What's next in this George Jetson fantasy? Flying cars, right? And, as it turns out, Toyota is working on just that, says Hiroyoshi Yoshiki, a managing officer for r&d.
Speaking last week at Bloomberg's Next Big Thing conference outside San Francisco, Yoshiki said the work is preliminary and that he is "very skeptical." But you have to start somewhere. Later, when tech blogs picked up on his comments, a Toyota spokesman clarified that what the company is researching is a way for cars to glide over the road without friction -- which sounds a lot more like a hovercraft.
If anyone can explore flying cars, it's Tesla. After all, CEO Elon Musk has launched rockets into space with his other company, SpaceX. And Musk sounded confident about flying cars in an interview with the British newspaper The
Independent last week.
"We could definitely make a flying car -- but that's not the hard part," Musk said. "The hard part is: How do you make a flying car that's super safe and quiet? Because if it's a howler, you're going to make people very unhappy."