Are you prepared for takeoff? The idea of getting around in a flying car not only sounds amazingly fun, it can be good for the environment too. But only for longer commutes.
- The term flying car has been thrown around a lot, but in the future it will likely be narrowed down to electric vertical take-off and landing aircraft or VTOLs.
- A recent study claims VTOLs will produce less CO2 per person, per mile than a traditional ground based EV.
- The study is slightly skewed with the VTOL is carrying 3 passengers and a pilot while the car is carrying 1.5 passengers.
- It is also worth noting, the 4 person VTOL is only superior on trips over 62 miles. Take-off and landing are energy intensive, so have to be balanced out with cruising.
Flying cars, also known as electric vertical takeoff and landing aircraft (VTOLs), have the ability to take off and land like a helicopter. Without the necessity of a runway, they become nimble vehicles that could help with congestion and cut down travel times.
In a study published in Nature Communications from the University of Michigan’s Center for Sustainable Systems and Ford Motor Co., researchers found that VTOLs had less of an environmental impact when traveling over 62 miles. Emissions tied to the VTOL were 52 percent lower than gasoline vehicles and 6 percent lower than battery-electric vehicles. That’s when compared to a VTOL carrying three passengers plus a pilot with a ground-based car averaging 1.54 people.
For shorter trips less than 22 miles, firing up your traditional gas burner engine used less energy and spit out less C02 than a single occupant VTOL. The average car commute is only about 11 miles, so the VTOL would be ideal when going say from San Francisco to San Jose or New York City to Washington D.C.
A lot of companies are developing VTOL vehicles. They include startups such as Munich-based Lilium as well as the big boys like Airbus and Boeing. NASA has even built VTOL prototypes.
In most cases, driving on terra firma will remain the better choice. But, VTOLs will play a part in our future. So if you’re not prepared for takeoff, you better get ready.