Flying Car Fantasy May Finally Be Getting Off The Ground

Monday, September 28th 2020, 12:04 pm
By: CBS News

We've heard about flying cars and personal aircraft for decades. Now, the fantasy of the flying car may finally be getting off the ground.

Innovators around the globe are going to new heights to create personal aircraft in all shapes and sizes.

The Toyota-backed company SkyDrive recently showed off a short but successful test flight of the personal aircraft it's developing.

"We're seeing quite a few companies investing a lot of money into this because the expectation is that by 2040 this is gonna be a multi-trillion dollar industry," CNET Roadshow Editor-in-Chief Tim Stevens said.

According to Stevens, some are developing planes that double as a car but, increasingly, prototypes take off vertically so there is no runway needed.

That includes Uber's Elevate. It's basically ride-sharing for the sky.

"Uber wants to develop hubs that would exist within major cities where you could basically go there, like a train station sort of thing, go up to the roof, hop in one of these things and then get out at the airport or maybe some station close to your home out in the suburbs," Stevens said.

Initially, a pilot would be at the controls, but the plan is for the aircraft to eventually fly autonomously.

Plane maker Airbus is also working on an air taxi. CBS News Correspondent Kris Van Cleave visited its test site in Oregon last year to see a flight which only lasted a few minutes. One of the challenges will be developing better, lighter batteries that let the aircraft fly farther and longer.

Their goal is to launch a remotely controlled four-seat craft called City Airbus. But there's a major hurdle: currently there are not established regulations to manage the airspace.

"So a lot of questions need to be resolved before these things can really hit the air," Stevens said.

Uber is moving ahead and hopes to have a piloted aircraft by 2023. SkyDrive is working to launch its personal vehicle that same year.