Every once in a while, a blogger/columnist like me puts something out there that excites the imagination of an unusual number of readers. Such an item was my recent blog on the testing and pending introduction (in 2011) of a “flying car,” which can transform from sport aircraft to automobile with a simple uptake of the wings.
While I was pondering the problems of insuring such a vehicle, I didn’t really stop to consider the practicality of having many devices buzzing around our roads and skies. That changed when I received the following message from a reader.
“Wish you had been enrolled in my 8th grade gifted class in the San Francisco Bay area when I was teaching in the 1970s. We designed and built models of Future Cities (their choice: air, under or surface of oceans or in space or on planets). One group of my boys built a five-foot in circumference hovercraft powered with an old vacuum cleaner motor, launched it and rode on it three feet above the playground for a very short time and not much distance. But it worked!”
Those very creative kids (undoubtedly now working in the aerospace program) got me thinking about what kinds of vehicles we would find in “future cities,” and for some reason the theme music from “The Jetsons” started running through my mind. Then I realized it was because in “The Jetsons,” George Jetson and everyone else does, in fact, zip around in a flying car.
But that was a cartoon, and in my experience cartoons tend to bear only a passing resemblance to real life. After all, if you take the number of cars now present on our roadways and put them in the sky, what does that give you? The sky would be so jammed with vehicles that patches of earth with unobstructed sunlight would be at a premium! Now that would be an interesting real estate market.
But I digress. We couldn’t just let people fly around willy-nilly, because chances are that even a minor fender bender at a height of, say, a few hundred feet could be fatal. We would need some kind of infrastructure in place to regulate the flow of traffic. As I recall, even the Jetsons’ world did have some sky-based traffic signals. Basically, we would have to duplicate our ground traffic flow devices in the air to accommodate all those flying cars. Suddenly, drivers in an airborne traffic jam might wish they were back on the ground!
The sheer expense and advance in technology (how do we keep all those sky traffic signals in place?) required to bring this off would seem to militate against any possibility of our world emulating that of George, Jane, Elroy, Judy, Rosie and Astro. So, with some reluctance, I have to conclude that we will not see such a system.
The flying car as envisioned by Woburn, Mass.-based Terrafugia Inc., maker of the vehicle already referenced, is in reality a small airplane that can also be used on established roadways. No infrastructure improvements are needed for either mode of travel.
On the other hand, I could be wrong. Perhaps those infrastructure problems could be solved more easily than I imagine. After all, I would have bet that after seeing a man on the moon in 1969, we would certainly have seen one on Mars 40 years later.
Who knows what form our travel will take? Keep dreaming!
Ara C. Trembly (www.aratremblytechnology.com) is the founder of Ara Trembly, The Tech Consultant and a longtime observer of technology in insurance and financial services. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The opinions posted in this blog do not necessarily reflect those of Insurance Networking News or SourceMedia.
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