Flying Taxi

Ready For Take-Off… In A Flying Taxi?

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Since Henry Ford hypothesized the creation of a ‘combination airplane and motorcar’ in 1940, film-makers and fanatics have endorsed the idea and turned it into a futuristic parody, longing for the development of such a vehicle. About 80 years on, the technological advancements in electrical power, navigation and autonomous systems make the development of autonomous flying taxis possible, and have been seen to attract many technology and vehicle based companies such as Airbus and Uber.

Clear for Take-Off?

The principle of beneficence says that we should create the largest ratio of benefit to detriment achievable. To this avail, whilst the development of the flying vehicle itself may be considered costly, flying taxis will be cheaper than driving a car in terms of the cost per distance travelled, and would reduce the travel time by up to 95%. The ability to travel unimpeded would reduce travelling stress as well, allowing passengers to guarantee their arrival times at other destinations.

According to the US Department of Transportation, human error causes 94% of automotive accidents. With flying taxis being developed to be autonomous and controlled using airspace management technology, the number of accidents due to human error will decrease and a safer environment for both passengers and pedestrians would be achieved. According to the National Transportation Safety Board, there currently is a 1 in 114 chance of dying in a car crash, and a 1 in 9821 on air and space transport. The use of airspace management technology would shift the statistics towards the latter.

Our moral responsibility to nature and the future will be left intact as well. There are currently 34 million vehicles on the road and 22% of carbon emissions in the UK are from road transport. With flying taxis being accessible and more convenient, the need for car ownership will decrease, resulting in a decrease in the number of land vehicles on the road. Subsequently, pollution levels and congestion should decrease, resulting in a cleaner and more sustainable global environment. In addition to that, costly issues such as the growing need for parking spaces and more roads will be mitigated, and their ability to travel vertically or horizontally would eliminate the need for runways and minimises additional infrastructural requirements.

It is clear then that flying taxis would have aid in a cleaner future for the environment, improve passenger safety and the potential government savings from lower infrastructural costs could be reinvested into other pressing issues such as scrapping the NHS budget cuts in the UK that contribute to 100 avoidable deaths every day. This positively affects everyone, right?

Brace for Impact!

The potential benefits of flying taxis are obvious, and who wouldn’t love to see the day when you could take a flying taxi from city to city for the same price as buying a ticket on an overcrowded, overpriced, train?

Bruce Willis as a Tax DriverWell, that may be because we are privileged enough to be able to afford public transport, and the prospect of travelling from city to city would likely be for pleasure or to fill our pockets. In a time when global inequality is on the rise, technological advancements aimed at increasing efficiency in wealthy economies serves only to accelerate this process, and flying taxis would be no exception. Equally, in societies where the technology is available, a (perfectly rational) fear of using a flying taxi would put you at an immediately obvious socioeconomic disadvantage.

Whilst the increase in global inequality is a prominent issue, an equally prevalent issue is that of duty of care to the passengers and pedestrians. In an accident, the software prioritises human life over animals and infrastructure. With particular pertinence to prioritising human life over that of an animal, is a hierarchy of life ethically justifiable? Arguably not…

A second condition by which the software operates in an accident is to ‘minimise harm’ to any human, following the ethical theory of least harm, whether pedestrian or passenger. An objective definition of what constitutes ‘lower harm’ is unachievable, as personal circumstance of each party is not accounted for.

The third condition is that the passenger can take control in morally ambiguous situations. This implies that people are truly capable of adhering to deontological and utilitarianist practices, which is undermined easily by imagining yourself in a life-threatening situation. It seems that bad drivers have been replaced with free-falling taxis.

Using an autonomous vehicle in general puts the user, and others, at immediate risk of cyber attacks. Even non-autonomous vehicles have been vulnerable to attacks in the past years through a method called GPS spoofing, such as in a study conducted in 2013 where a $80 million yacht was successfully misdirected by controlling its GPS. So what guarantees the security of a flying taxi?

Cyber attacks will become more commonplace as the world becomes digitised, but few cyber attacks have the ability to directly take a life. The chances of falling victim would undoubtedly be slim, but it begs the question: is the concept of least harm really appropriate when discussing whether to risk lives for convenience? The cost of these attacks isn’t to be trivialised, either, with the bill expected to rack up to $6 trillion annually by 2021.

Flying Taxis or Dying Fantasies

Clearly flying taxis would benefit our society. The seem to be the natural course of automotive progression, and not pursuing technological advancement arguably detriments society, and goes against deontological and utilitarianist ethical principles. This said,  are we ready to introduce these given the ethical dilemmas proposed above, and is it truly beneficial to society if global benefit could not be achieved?

35 thoughts on “Ready For Take-Off… In A Flying Taxi?

  1. An interesting article that raises a number of questions:
    “the growing need for parking spaces ” – presumably the taxis need to land. Also, why don’t we all just use more ground-based taxis?

    What are the flying taxis going to run on? Petrol?

    How fast can they travel? You say travel time can be reduced by 95% but is this based on the understanding that everyone who now has a car will have a flying car instead?

    Finally, can you develop the ethical arguments please?

    You say: “not pursuing technological advancement arguably detriments society, and goes against deontological and utilitarianist ethical principles” how does this go against those principles please?

    1. Thank you for your response.

      Firstly, as far as has been reported, the aim is to make use of designated rooftops as docking stations. Should flying taxis become a realised prospect and a competitive form of travel, this would reduce the number of parking spaces required for ground-based travel. The nature of the flying taxi in its current form seems to be geared more towards longer distances – distances that are not financially viable in ground based taxis, i.e. city-to-city travel. They would therefore be not so much a competitor to ground based taxis, but more for rail and long distance driving.

      Uber have said that their taxi would be ‘purely electric’.

      The taxis are quoted as being capable of flying at 200mph. The statistic for time saving is actually that an ’80 minute’ journey could be reduced to ‘as little as four minutes’. This is based on travel in rush hour situations, where this development seems to be most applicable. It is not so much that everybody now will have access to a flying taxi, but more that it will provide a bypass to rush-hour traffic that will save considerable time.

      This statement is firstly assuming that this specific technological advancement will ultimately increase happiness in society. If we take the definition of utilitarianism to be the aim of maximising happiness and pleasure as an average across society, then arguably, not pursuing the development of flying taxis is a disregard for this ethical theory.

      Equally, based on the assumption that it is ‘right’ to further the advancement of mankind, then it is arguably our obligation to make these advancements without consideration of the consequences. If Deontological ethics promotes the ‘right’ thing without the examination of the consequences, then flying taxis should be developed without regards to these consequences. Failure to do so would be dismissive of our obligations as a species and would go against Deontological ethics.

  2. While this is an interesting topic, I think you are trying to talk about two issues at once which makes for an unfair comparison. The first part you are talking more about flying taxis in general. The flying taxi can be non-autonomous in my opinion and most of the benefits would still apply. The second part talks about the autonomous side of the technology and not talking about the negative impacts of a flying vehicle. The two don’t seem to stand on the same playing field to be weighed against.

    I read the article regarding Singapore’s plan to use these flying taxis and one thing that popped out to me was that they’re doing it to reduce CO2 emissions and be more environmentally conscious, not to reduce accidents or save lives. I appreciate that Singapore has one of the lower statistics in the world regarding road accidents and fatalities but it seems to me here rather than acting under deontology or duty ethics, they are just following regulations. The utilitarian framework only applies in terms of saving time and lower costs which will bring pleasure to some, to an extent.

    Also I appreciate that this is not a “thing” yet for you to have some concrete data on but it seems to me that a lot of the arguments are mostly assumptions. You assumed that land-car ownership will decrease, how does that work? If for example, I have a fear of heights or have really bad motion sickness in the air, surely its not ethical to just chuck me in one of those vehicles and whizz me somewhere just because its faster and cheaper?

    While this is an interesting topic, I think you are trying to talk about two issues at once which makes for an unfair comparison. The first part you are talking more about flying taxis in general. The flying taxi can be non-autonomous in my opinion and most of the benefits would still apply. The second part talks about the autonomous side of the technology and not talking about the negative impacts of a flying vehicle. The two don’t seem to stand on the same playing field to be weighed against.

    I read the article regarding Singapore’s plan to use these flying taxis and one thing that popped out to me was that they’re doing it to reduce CO2 emissions and be more environmentally conscious, not to reduce accidents or save lives. I appreciate that Singapore has one of the lower statistics in the world regarding road accidents and fatalities but it seems to me here rather than acting under deontology or duty ethics, they are just following regulations. The utilitarian framework only applies in terms of saving time and lower costs which will bring pleasure to some, to an extent.

    Also I appreciate that this is not a “thing” yet for you to have some concrete data on but it seems to me that a lot of the arguments are mostly assumptions. You assumed that land-car ownership will decrease, how does that work? If for example, I have a fear of heights or have really bad motion sickness in the air, surely its not ethical to just chuck me in one of those vehicles and whizz me somewhere just because its faster and cheaper?

    I have to say I am in favour of flying taxis so hopefully I get to ride one in the future, even if doesn’t give global benefit. It just looks cool.

    1. Thank you siapakahsaya for your comment. Very interesting that you can envisage a world with non-autonomous flying cars, I’m not sure I’d trust myself in one of those if I’m honest!

      I appreciate your point that we are talking about two separate issues – one about the benefits and the other the autonomy – however the current plans for flying taxis are for them to be fully autonomous, and so this autonomy is an important aspect of flying taxis in our opinion.

      The point you make about Singapore is very interesting. Perhaps then the ethical discussion is different for different countries that are trying to achieve different things? This is a useful point to consider in the next section.

      The discrimination of those who may be afraid of flying etc. has been touched on above. I think that the crucial element of this is that there is no forcing involved, and that it is a choice that will be made by the passenger. It would only be faster and cheaper for you, so the ethical debate is whether it is therefore fair for you, with your fear of heights and motion sickness, to be lose out on benefits that others will reap due to something that is out of your control.

      You and me both! Thank you for your comment.

  3. Interesting read! From an environmentalist point of view, I feel that the flying taxi would actually require more ‘fuel’ in order to travel the same distance as there is more energy needed to ‘carry and push’ the taxi around. Besides that, in terms of beating traffic, i believe that instead of personalised cars, society should be carpooling or travelling on bikes. Instead of a flying taxi, why not a flying bus? Flying taxis seems like a luxurious way of travelling (Uber offered helicopter services and its way more expensive). I feel that it is not fair to the lower income society who cannot afford to even ride a normal taxi, what more a flying taxi. To beat this, i reckon a flying bus would be more appropriate as it should cater to everyone in the society.

    Besides that, how are the ‘road signs’ being regulated if the flying cars were to be implemented? Does that mean there would be flying police cars too? I feel that although possible in the future, a flying taxi scheme would not be appropriate until we find a reliable and sustainable form of energy and also some regulations on flying vehicles.

    1. That would be an issue wouldn’t it! How can we justify greater pollution for the sake of our convenience? I am in total agreement that greater use should be made of car pooling systems, and that more people should ride bikes and walk where possible. However I feel that they do not provide the same allure that flying taxis might, so perhaps a more extreme approach is necessary? I also agree that low-income society would be negatively effected by this development, and depending on the price point, it could therefore be argued that using the utilitarian framework, the implementation of flying taxis is ‘wrong’. A flying bus would be interesting, maybe we could borrow the Knight bus?

      I believe that the autonomous nature of the flying taxis would negate the need for road signs. However, you raise a very interesting point about aerospace policing. This is something that until now we had not considered. Surely otherwise the flying taxis would provide the ultimate getaway vehicle? I guess police helicopters might be in demand.

      Thank you for your comment.

  4. Great article on the future of transportation, however there are so much that can be argued on this topic that may prove that flying taxis is just a concept and not feasible to be implemented for our future. One of the main question that i keep on asking is, why taxis? why cant it just be flying cars or vehicles? Since most of us prefer not to take taxis even for lower ground vehicles. Another issue that can be questioned is if the fact if it is true on the energy saving of the flying taxis and in terms of fuel efficiency. Also wouldn’t a large flying object would cause more harm to the people below if any failures would occur? Since it is flying lower than normal aircrafts and closer to building and the people? From my point of view, flying transportation would be feasible for other services such as for medical service (as an ambulance), but not for daily transportation.

    1. Thank you adah for your opinions.

      Why taxis? It is a good question. I believe that the futuristic nature of flying vehicles is to blame – only large corporations such as Uber can afford them. I suppose the autonomous nature of the taxis render the name superficial, and so they could easily be named ‘flying rental cars’.

      I guess the energy savings will only become apparent in time. I think (hope) that most people would prioritize the environment over their convenience, and so it would be commercially beneficial for the manufacturers to create an energy efficient taxi. This is purely speculative of course.

      For me that is the biggest issue, how can the safety of pedestrians and other ground-dwellers be ensured? If it can’t, then how can it be ethically justifiable?

  5. This is a futuristic idea that can benefit us all. as stated before safer transportation can be provided to the consumer. besides, an efficient way of moving through the city can be provided. However few consideration have to be made. When Tesla first introduced, they didn’t get the support hey wanted. This is because they are new, and the previous electric car made was having lot of issues. thus the manufacturer have to know how to convince the consumer that having a flying taxi is the better choice of future.

    I believed using an electric powered engine will add to cost of manufacture and maintenance while limit the travel distance. Petrol on the other hand cause pollution. In big city, having tall sky scrapper building will deter the efficiency of route provided. It is understandable that the system is controlled by a computer and again, cyber security is vulnerable to hacking and modification, leading to greater risk. Noise level need also be considered because power generated by engine produces considerable amount of noise especially around housing area.

    1. fadlihisyam YES! I completely agree, that’s an extremely interesting point. Change scares people, but that doesn’t mean it’s not beneficial to society. It will have to be proven extensively if this concept is to take off, excuse the pun.

      When it comes down to it, the environmental impact will be extremely important to the success or failure of flying taxis as a concept (or at least this iteration of them). As in the comment made by adah, the safety of people below is also paramount, particularly in light of hackers’ capabilities and the devastation that can occur. The noise is also an issue, maybe they would have to fly extremely high to avoid this? Some very interesting considerations, thank you.

  6. Your article does a great job at tackling such a contentious topic, it’s very convincing. However, I have one major concern regarding the utilitarian approach. You do touch on maximalism when you list the various benefits flying taxis would have both environmentally and economically and you conclude these reasons “positively affect everyone.” But if we are to be true to a utilitarian approach then the pleasure principle must be not only be applied to the maximum number of people but we must also aim for the maximum pleasure for all. I fear there is a lack of social consideration in this argument and this is necessity when discussing ethics. Sadly, the conviction of your argument is hindered by the absence of discussion about the damage to the livelihood of many communities. While you excellently acknowledge the benefits of flying taxis on commuters and travellers in comparison to current car, rail and air travel, you do not discuss the detrimental effect on employment prospects. Have you considered how many jobs the introduction of flying cars would cost? The number of disadvantages to road, rail and air travel you have listed would surely mean that masses of those employed in these sectors will be awaiting their unfortunate fate as the popularity of flying taxis balloons. We have to consider the responsibilities of those at risk, and those with families to provide for in particular. Personally, I cannot see how putting so many skilled people out of work is not ethically violating. Yes, these people will have a cleaner and arguably safer environment, but how do you propose they will appreciate these advantages if they cannot feed their families? The pleasure principle must be universal, and this is an issue tantamount with economic and environmental outcome.

    1. A very interesting comment! You have raised some very provocative points in terms of those who would lose out because of the implementation of flying taxis. Particularly, can their introduction be right from a utilitarian perspective if they potentially cause mass unemployment? Equally, could this be justified from a deontological perspective? I know that I would not appreciate someone nullifying my skill set through technological advance.

      Arguably then, the investment in these flying taxis could alternatively be used to fund advancements in green travel that do not rely on autonomous machinery, but maintain the utility of these workers? This would result in a greener environment and the scope for technological advance without compromising the livelihoods of millions worldwide, and thus would not be ethically violating in this sense.

      Thank you for your comment.

  7. In my point of view, having an autonomous flying taxi would increase the unemployment rate. This is because, most of the existing taxi drivers would lose their job when autonomous flying taxi is introduced. Besides, if flying taxi and flying car were to happen, I believe that less road infrastructure like taxi stop will be used and built. So where these taxis are going to land and pick up the customer? Or will it be flying from a taxi hub upon request from a customer like what Uber does? Finally, it was mentioned in the article that the taxis will be operated from a centralised airspace management technology, hence what would happen if the centre command is down (probably due to power outage)? Since more and more flying taxis will be used to replace conventional taxis it can greatly affect people that rely on flying taxi as their daily transportation.

    1. Thank you mea15mz for your input. I completely agree that it could have a temporary impact on employment rates of public transport operators, and it is possible that the detriment to them could outweigh the benefit (and increased happiness) to the general public. I believe the flying taxis would operate from a hub as you say, much like a train or coach station. Perhaps there would be no benefits from this regarding infrastructural savings – you need to get to the taxi station after all.

      This is a very interesting point. I personally have little idea what the procedures in place would involve, and how they would be positioned to counter such an issue. I presume it is not as simple as having a back up generator in a power cut? A very interesting point, thank you.

  8. Flying taxi seems like an incredible plan for the future as what we always imagined where there are flying cars everywhere. However, don’t you think that running a flying taxi could be more costly compared to the usual taxi? Let’s just take example from the maintenance cost of an airplane. In the world where some people still couldn’t afford taxis on the road, I doubt that flying taxi could be the key to this problem. Also, if people were to pay for this service, surely they would want to travel according to their own destination and take-off time meaning that people are not really going to carpool. Imagine if EVERYONE is going to use this, isn’t air traffic will be as congested as the usual road?

    1. An interesting look into the future. I imagine at somepoint the costs would be comparable (if not lower) than the current taxi system. Uber claim that per mile, the taxis would cost less to the customer than putting petrol in your own car, which I certainly know that taxis are not. I imagine this is based on cars’ ludicrously low MPG rate in the US as well (although comparably low petrol prices).

      I also envisage carpooling becoming difficult, and the worry is that air traffic could become extremely congested, and then what difference have we made apart from increased unemployment, noise pollution, and potentially exposed ourselves to cyber attacks? A very insightful point, thank you.

  9. An interesting analysis of the impact of flying taxis! In response to a comment by ‘siapakahsaya’, I don’t believe that the flying taxi should be non-autonomous. As highlighted in the article, the single greatest point of failure in road traffic accidents is the human element, and by an overwhelming margin at 94%. I believe this is one of the reasons why flying cars will be made to be autonomous should they be realised, and so I believe the authors’ focus on automated flying taxis is justified.

    A point raised in the article is that the rate of deaths for flying vehicles will drop closer to that of aeroplanes and away from that of road traffic accidents. Commercial aeroplanes carry hundreds of people at a time, tens of thousands of feet above ground level (I assume flying taxis will be much closer to ground level?) and there are fewer planes per person that travel. In contrast, a realised vision for flying taxis could result in tens of thousands of flying vehicles travelling in close proximity to each other, so is it really fair to compare flying taxis to aeroplanes in this particular argument?

    1. I completely agree that flying taxis need to be autonomous, there’s not a chance I want to be living in a world where any Tom, Dick and Harry can hop into a flying car and ride them like a dodgem. It does provide exciting possibilities in the future doesn’t it? If it is possible to minimize vehicular fatalities through the use of flying taxis, then I agree it should be employed.

      You raise a very interesting point though, perhaps this comparison is not entirely justified. However, we are not stating unequivocally that the number of fatalities will be reduced to that of air travel, but more that they would likely be reduced significantly through the use of airspace management technology. Removing pedestrians and cyclists from the equation has to be a start, anyway.

      Thanks very much for your comment.

  10. Should anything happen during its flight (e.g: system failure), is there any safety mechanism which can prevent the flying taxi from falling on people below? Although the risk is said to be lower, but if due to some factors an accident is likely to occur, the casualty of the accident involving a flying taxi might be doubled from that of automotive as it can affect those in the air AND on the ground.

    1. mspotato, you’re not just a pretty name. This is, in my opinion, the most important issue. Pedestrians should not be held accountable for people wanting to fly in a taxi. Also, the potential consequences of a 200mph taxi plummeting to the ground will likely be far higher than the skid marks that you ‘car’ leaves behind when your breaks lock up on the ground. This terrifying thought may be something that we have to be ready for, but does beg the question to whether there is an ethical justification for potentially causing far more harm when things go wrong, even if they do so less frequently.

      Thank you for your opinion.

  11. The idea is interesting and sounded great upon the first read. However, there are many specifics that are missing in the article. For example, it begs the question of what would the taxis be running on? Assuming that this flying taxi would be running on fuel similar to those of other flying transports i.e. aeroplanes, it wouldn’t necessarily aid in the pollution levels of our planet.

    This is linked to the fact that the flying taxi wouldn’t necessarily be accessible to everyone for various reasons such as the inability to afford riding the taxi in the first place, people that are skeptical/afraid of the safety of being in an automated flying taxi, etc.

    Beyond that, it also raises the issue of unemployment following the idea that flying taxis are put into action as well as the regulation of having flying taxis in the air. How would the safety of the passengers in the flying taxi be ensured? Will there be a system watching from afar?

    The idea of having a flying taxi would appear beneficial in the long run. However, for now, I believe that there is still much work to be done for for the many questions and skeptics that would follow this proposition.

    1. Thank you for your comment, mn3195.
      The flying taxis are developed to run on batteries. Therefore, the implementation of flying taxis would help in creating a greener environment as the greenhouse gas emission can be reduced.
      I agree with your point about unemployment. As these taxis are autonomous, this will cause the ground taxi drivers to lose their jobs. However, as the world is moving towards digitalization, there are few opinions that claimed that digitalization will create more job opportunities as it increases the demand for other jobs such as software engineers and machine experts. Therefore, this could probably be a change that we could all look forward to as the technology in this world develops.

  12. The idea of the flying taxi is a great one! But how will this taxi properly operate? Will it closely mimic the standard bus/train/tube style where it picks up and drops off passengers or certain stops or will it function as a normal taxi (picking up and dropping off wherever the passenger wants)? Would the taxi need extra infrastructure as landing pads or will it normally integrate with already built in streets? These questions may lead to the overall uses of the flying taxi as maybe within the future where the technology is available, other ideas such as the hyper loop would render this one obsolete.

    Of course if it works reliably in dense cities and have a reasonable payment, this idea would likely take off. In the long run the idea can be further branched out to other uses, not just taxi-ing people but maybe for transfer of supplies too.

    A concern to take notice when implementing this idea would also be the social and law side of the spectrum. As the taxi uses airspace belonging to different owners, will flying above certain territories cause any complications? How would sharing airspace with other flying vehicles turn out, whether an air high way is implemented or just private routes set by by the government? Also how would law enforcement take place to control other aspects such as the passenger behavior .

    The articles interestingly explains the engineering side of the flying taxi idea. But it would need a lot more perspectives from other fields of study to successfully convince the mass to support and use this service.

    1. Hi aahmh, thank you for the comment.

      You brought out an interesting perspective when you mentioned about the airspace. It is assumed that these autonomous flying vehicles would be able to navigate through airspace that has sufficient space for it to navigate through and therefore, could go in between infrastructures. But looking at it realistically, in a dense city, this would be impossible and of course, predetermined paths (such as the air high way) would have to be developed as you have said. Coming from this, if the flying taxis were to be implemented, the city would have to then be built surrounding this flying taxi concept instead of the other way around.

      But definitely, other perspectives from other fields would need to be looked into in order to really assess this problem.

  13. The concept itself very futuristic, let hope it will be realistic within 10 years. I agreed this could help reduce travel time to reach destinations and the number of accidents due to human error will decrease.
    As much as it offers also comes the disadvantages, the employment in taxis industry, the security of the system, and wealth gap as it increases the efficiency of certain economies whilst leaving out other economies.

  14. Flying cars is a futuristic idea, something we commonly predict when it comes to the future – but a flying taxi in a controlled air space system is smart. Although there could be security issues, I’d like to believe that a safely controlled environment in the air space (much like the current subways we are used to), is possible if we take the time and effort for it. Interesting article indeed

  15. I really like the article. In particular, you touch on the detriment to less fortunate people, predominantly in less developed economies. Is it a possibility that this will merely be a short term effect that proves to subsequently benefit those economies? Think of other technologies that have almost inevitably had similar effects at their conception, for example the car. Is it fair to say that economies that were late to the party are now worse off because of it? Or is it more apt to suggest that in fact they have experienced a delayed benefit? This being said, the principle of beneficence is an important one – is it possible to quantify this on a global scale prior to mass introduction?

    ‘srkelly’ evaluates another extremely interesting perspective however – it is perhaps not only those in less developed economies that would suffer. The introduction of flying taxis on a large scale could be comparative to the negative aspects ‘Thatcher’s Britain’ in many ways, forcing the ‘lower skilled’ workers, who rely on demand for non-autonomous travel, out of jobs .

  16. A very interesting topic to discuss on and I love the idea of flying taxis/cars just because they look cool. However, there are a few points I’d like to raise.

    1. How can it reduce the travel time? because as far as I know, if you wanna fly, you have to wait for the air traffic controllers to give permission to take off. it’s not as easy as it sounds. and you cannot just simply fly anytime you want unless you have filed a flight plan.

    2.Flying taxis may have more benefits than the normal taxis. but the cost would be higher because they need more maintenance to make sure that they are in a good state to withstand the pressure especially when landing and take off because these are the critical times. The material used to manufacture the taxis would be more costly too. I am aware that it is cheaper in terms of cost per distance but due to high manufacturing cost and maintenance cost, I think the passengers still have to pay more to use the service. And this leads to my next point where only rich people have access to this, which is quite unfair .

    3. In the article, it says that the car ownership will reduce. to be honest, even if flying taxis existed, that doesnt stop me from having my own car. Looking at privacy aspect, who wants to choose taxis over his/her own car?

    4. Lastly, it is not fair to make comparison between car crash and air transport due to its number of passengers. what I mean is in an airplane, the number of passengers can be up to 80. and there will be about 4 people per car. there’s a significant difference in these two. so realistically, putting other factors aside, accidents involving flying taxis would have the same probability as the car crash because of similar number of passengers. I could be wrong but that is how I see it.

    Although my points make me look like im against the flying taxis, I still would love to ride a flying taxi one day but that’s just because im a fan of flying vehicles.

  17. Great topic to be discussed. Looking towards the future of transportation where there could be a better traffic control system to reduce congestion which leads to reductions of Carbon emission. Combined with the idea of flying taxis, people don’t even need to buy their own vehicle.

    It is interesting how it can make people’s lives easier but does this take into account all the current stakeholders? Does the advancement of technology meant to replace human’s functions in the society or is it meant to assist human? Would the system that was installed be abled to make a better decision than human, both ethically and emotionally?

    Having flying cars is the vision of the future but is it really the best option? Considering that it will only increase the risk compared to having accidents on the ground, which would cause lesser damages. Could we consider other ways of using the advancing technology to still address the issue that flying taxis would but with lesser disadvantages?

  18. This is a good topic to debate on! I can see now a days, there are quite a few car manufacturers come up with the idea of flying car. Some of them even come out with the real production unit that promises better outcome than the road only vehicle. However, I am against this concept of flying cars for a few reason.

    Firstly, the current technology uses some sort of fan to propel the flying vehicle and this system make a lot of noise! In a populated area, this can be a nuisance as I can imagine a bunch of loud and weird cars fly on top of you. Not the kind of situation I want to be in.

    Secondly is about the legal and safety consideration. This is a big issue regarding the flying cars. Are we ready to face the major changes that will happen in the future if we were to bring this idea to life. I’m talking about building & road infrastructure, safety requirements and also the licence requirement to own the vehicles. Hence, it’s fair to say this won’t be coming anytime soon.

    For me, flying cars is an interesting concept, but in reality i don’t see the point of it in our life. I’m happy with the way it is now 🙂

    p/s : I’m with the car community as you can see from my name. Unicorns does exist btw…

  19. Great article! I love how these futuristic concepts of flying cars are discussed these days, seeing that the commercialized drones could be a concept to the flying taxi as well.

    However, as an engineer, I feel that implementing the flying taxis is somewhat limited to the feasibility of the cars itself. There are reasons why the ground vehicles dominate the transportation today, an that’s because to understand how an object could levitate and fly evolve much later than just using wheels. Besides, maintaining the stability of the car, take-off and landing operations require someone to handle the vehicle with an equivalent skills as a pilot, and a pilot has to train for years to be able to fly an airplane. Its complex and rocket science operations makes flying taxis a little bit challenging, and if being challenging is what an engineer today should tackle and aspired to, then we need to realize about the huge investment we are going to see in this technology and that’s probably not returning any results in short few years.

  20. It’s a good and futurustic idea. But I think they will create more problems than they solve. As Im given this oppurtunity to comment regarding this article, I would like to list some of the problems that might arise.

    1. Maintanance – If somebody doesn’t maintain their flying car, it could drop a hubcap and guillotine you. Your anxiety level will not decrease as a result of things that weigh a lot buzzing around your head. This is the first problem that i think might contribute for people choosing to be an air taxi driver.

    2. Costs – The high costs of ensuring the safety of airliners through multiple redundant systems only make sense because the plane is nearly always in the air and filled with several hundred passengers. When built into a craft designed for one or two passengers, the math starts to look suspect.

    3. The Noise is getting out of control – One of the biggest problems in urban aviation is noise. Planes and helicopters are noisy to a fault, and property values underneath the flight paths of airports are much lower because no one wants to live under the constant noise.

    I think there are many other difficulties in order to make this idea possible. If it succeeds, I think It would take a lot of collateral damages before it is improvised for a better future.

    1. LukeHax, you have highlighted several issues concerning the implementation of flying taxis and there were all significant issues. For issue number 1 (maintenance), the flying taxis are meant to be autonomous therefore, there won’t be any taxi driver, just the passenger. I understand your concern about the maintenance of flying taxis is very important as they hover over your heads. I also understand your concern about noise pollution. However, Volocopter, a company that manufactures these flying taxis are designing the vehicles to be very reliable by equipping it with the latest technology, to ensure the safety of the passenger and people around it. The international safety standards are also ensured to be met before releasing it to the customers. The company is also equipping these taxis to have rotors that only produce a very low level of noise compared to the sound of a helicopter. I hope with these answers will help to ease your mind and change your perception of riding on a flying taxi!

      Thank you for your comment! Hope you’ll be as excited as I am about going on a flying taxi one day!

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