Can Flying Cars lead the way to a Greener Future?
Whilst the Jetson lifestyle remains fiction, We are indeed inching closer to a future of flying cars with Vertical Takeoff and Landing air crafts (VTOL).
With companies such as Chrysler, Airbus, and Uber on board the inception of such technology, VTOL has the potential to, make short-distance air travel easier and more common.
The question remains, how will such innovations compare to cars and what will be the environmental impact?
Researchers with Ford have compared electric VTOL to both electric and gas-powered cars. Results found VTOL may only be more energy efficient in specific instances.
For trips longer than 100 km a “flying car” fully loaded with one pilot and three passengers outperforms a gas or electric car carrying the average occupancy of 1.5 people.
For trips shorter than 100 km, however, the VTOL is less efficient than any ground-based car. That’s because it requires a lot of energy to lift the airplane off the ground.
“What we’re saying is [the VTOL is better] if you’re heavily congested, have geographic constraints, indirect routing, if you don’t have roads, or if you have to go a long distance,” Gregory A. Keoleian, director of the Center for Sustainable Systems at the University of Michigan, told The Daily Beast.
However, Keoleian notes that while the VTOLs would be more environmentally friendly in these specific circumstances, it’s important to understand the context of the study. The researchers only looked at cars; they didn’t compare the flying vehicles to the efficiency of trains or buses.
“We don’t want people to shift from an efficient transit mode like rail to a VTOL that’s not going to help the environment,” he said. An aerial taxi, when rail isn’t available, he says, might ultimately be the most useful version of these flying vehicles because they are the most efficient when they are at full occupancy.
“And the other factor that’s important is vehicle miles travelled,” he added. “The more miles, the more emissions, the more energy used. So it’s also very important that new technology innovations don’t make transportation so convenient that people live further from work. We want to avoid sprawl. We need to reduce miles travelled.”
05 May 2019