Tuesday, July 21, 2009

When Are We Going to See the Flying Car?

Incognito #5 by Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips

In comics, there are many instances when we have to suspend our disbelief. Alien planets, superpowers, time travel, radioactive spiders, parallel universes, and the list goes on. Incognito is no exception. In this series, superpowers, monsters, cloning and mind control all play a large role. And I am willing to suspend my disbelief for all of these. Growing a full-grown superhuman capable of intelligent thought in a laboratory? Sure, why not?

Where I draw the line is the flying car.

In this issue, we see Zack Overkill and Ava Destruction zipping around the sky in a flying car that, no doubt, was invented by the mad scientists of the villainous crime syndicate, of which they were previously members. I have a hard time believing that such a car as depicted in the image above is economically or technologically feasible. Nor do I think it is actually a smart idea for Zack and Ava to possess one.

First, it surprises me that these two supposedly brilliant criminal masterminds would try to remain under the radar and attempt to avoid capture by traveling in the flying car. Wouldn't a regular car have worked better? This way, they would have blended into the crowd, rather than attracting attention during take-off, landing, and possibly even the flight. I thought the name of the book was Incognito.

Second, there is the issue of lifting off and landing vertically. Notice in the image that the car does not have any wings. This means that it does not require acceleration on a runway (like an ordinary airplane) to take off, but instead is likely capable of doing it on its own. After all, we're talking about sinister, mad-scientist technology here. The problem is that millions and millions of dollars have already been spent trying to create such a car, and so far we have seen minimal results. In fact, according to The Economist,

One enthusiast, Canadian-born Paul Moller of Davis, California, has spent an estimated $250m of his own and other people’s money over the past 45 years trying get his fan-powered Skycar off the ground. So far, none of his vertical take-off and landing prototypes has risen much more than a few feet.

So that's $250 million spent developing the Moller Skycar, which still does not really do much more than hover. And this is a man who has spent over forty years working exclusively on the development of the flying car. How would the villains have been able to do better?

Third, what about the fuel of the flying car? Well, the Terrafugia Transition, the latest design for a "roadable plane" claims that it can get 500 miles on a single tank (20 gallons) of petrol cruising at 115 mph. 500 miles of flying is pretty good, but remember that this is more of a small airplane than it actually is a flying car. The cars from fiction, from our imaginations, and from Incognito do not have wings to help with lift or aviation. Instead, they have to power themselves through the duration of the flight, and more importantly, through liftoff. This would require a significant amount of fuel, which I suspect would both be expensive and inefficient. Maybe the villains have tapped an alternate energy source, which they are using to propel their cars. If this is the case, then why even be villains? Just make billions of dollars selling energy on the market. Or efficient flying cars!

There are many other reasons to think that it will be a long time before humans are cruising as they did in The Jetsons or Back to the Future II. As The Economists notes, many of the cars that are designed like planes, such as the Transition, are likely to require proper pilot licensing. In addition, it is still illegal (except in Alaska) to take off or land on public roads. Then there are air traffic control problems, FAA regulations to pass, National Highway and Traffic Safety regulations, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Transportation, and a whole mess of legality issues to get through. This does not really apply to Incongito, but it is just something to think about regarding the future of the flying car.

Believe me, no one is more upset about the infeasibility of the flying car than I am. I grew up hoping that one day I would get to live in a world where I could fly to work through a hovering skyway. Back to the Future predicted this would happen by 2015. I am sad to report it does not look so. Despite what Zack Overkill and Eva Destruction say.

15 comments:

Matt said...

Some good points... your comment about being able to blend in with a flying car was spot-on, not really sure what Zack Overkill and Ava Destruction were thinking. Also, I really hope those are actually their original birth names.

I take issue with your assessment of the cost of such a car. First of all, while Mr. Moller may have spent a truckload of money trying to develop his flying car, it should be noted that his vehicle is fan-powered; Ava and Zack's car seems to be ejecting flames or some other form of light, suggesting either massive rocket boosters or a more advanced propulsion system. Perhaps Mr. Moller spent so much money because he was going about this the wrong way for 45 years; if Mr. Overkill and Ms. Destruction came up with a more efficient method, it's possible they didn't need to spend as much (though I'll admit this is kind of unlikely).

More importantly, however, we must consider the cost-benefit ratio for such a construction. Even if the flying car cost them $500 million, if they were able to use its capabilities to steal $1 billion and escape at a rapid speed, then they would already be in the black. And assuming the car wasn't damaged beyond repair in such a heist, there could be a potentially large return from multiple heists, requiring only this hefty initial investment to develop the vehicle.

I also believe that it's possible the villains have indeed developed an alternate energy source, but I disagree that such a development would inspire them to go legit. Money is only one small part of the drive towards villainy; I suspect that even if a villain were to win the lottery, he/she would still commit heinous acts for the thrill of it. Plus, why would a villain want to sell this technology and make the world a better place? Doesn't sound very villainous to me... more like the Pickens Plan.

Will said...

Totally agree with the notion that, outside of flying cars being as common as they are in Star Wars on Coruscant, two criminals flying around is a great way to be caught.

Also, what mad genius decided on a convertible? It is cold above the cloud level (and Ava's lack of warm clothes will make it especially unpleasant) and any decent flight speed would create an insane wind speed. Not to mention, it is possible the highest flight could be dangerous if the atmosphere thins enough and there is no pressurized cabin. I want a flying car as much as the next person, but I would want mine with heater, back up oxygen supply, and a roof and windows.

car tuning said...

modifiye

thank you

Anonymous said...

You are cordially invited to see my real flying car project at www.strongware.com/dragon

sim so dep said...

Thanks for taking the time to discuss this, I feel strongly about it and love learning more on this topic. If possible, as you gain expertise, would you mind updating your blog with more information? It is extremely helpful and beneficial to your readers.

linkwheel said...

Properly, this is my very first go to in your weblog! We're a gaggle of volunteers and starting a brand new initiative in a community throughout the same niche. Your weblog supplied us helpful info to work on. You could have carried out a marvellous job! Anyway, in my language, there will not be a lot good source like this.

link wheel said...

Have you ever ever considered adding more movies to your weblog posts to maintain the readers extra entertained? I mean I just learn by way of the complete article of yours and it was fairly good but since I'm more of a visible learner,I found that to be more useful nicely let me know how it turns out! I like what you guys are always up too. Such clever work and reporting! Keep up the good works guys I've added you guys to my blogroll. This can be a nice article thanks for sharing this informative information.. I'll visit your weblog repeatedly for some newest post. Anyway, in my language, there will not be a lot good supply like this.

quality backlinks said...

Resources just like the one you mentioned right here shall be very useful to me! I'll submit a link to this web page on my blog. I'm certain my visitors will discover that very useful. Big thanks for the useful info i discovered on Area News Anyway, in my language, there are not much good supply like this.

sim so dep said...

I take issue with your assessment of the cost of such a car. First of all, while Mr. Moller may have spent a truckload of money trying to develop his flying car, it should be noted that his vehicle is fan-powered; Ava and Zack's car seems to be ejecting flames or some other form of light, suggesting either massive rocket boosters or a more advanced propulsion system. Perhaps Mr. Moller spent so much money because he was going about this the wrong way for 45 years; if Mr. Overkill and Ms. Destruction came up with a more efficient method, it's possible they didn't need to spend as much (though I'll admit this is kind of unlikely).

A.J. Jacksoon said...

Discover not by the side of home how to facilitate accomplish a quash cell phone lookup reverse phone lookup a cellular phone search otherwise yet a phone number lookup lookup with the aim of locate elsewhere who is trailing with the intention of individual that has been calling you this intact point in time ok.

Anonymous said...

Transpose mobile phone lookup web pages like this lone will give you all kinds of mobile phone lookup details so so when to you be capable of in due course discover out their name, address, where they be alive, reverse phone lookup their current age with a momentous deal further. So at what time you want to facilitate run through a telephone number search nowadays, merely make positive to facilitate spend this supportive tool to facilitate uncover away since home all kinds of overturn phone search information bringing up the rear to facilitate character today.

Anonymous said...

I enjoy this nice switch cell phone lookup before cellular phone search or else phone number search spot. I be capable of ascertain a lot of phone number lookup things in relation to change cellular phone lookup here nowadays while I checkered away as of home this guide here.

negocios rentables said...

hello, i would like to read more about this interesting topic beacuase
it is really interesting.

Anonymous said...

Exhaust this telephone search place that unearth out cell phone lookup is trailing this mysterious phone number you be the owner of questions about. And in our day you be able to pay out the alike telephone search with the purpose of obtain those answers ended meant for you these days quickly in addition to easily.

Anonymous said...

Cheap Nike free 2 2011 new shoes
Nike Free Plus australia free shipping
Nike Free Run Black shoes australia online store
Nike Free Run Grey shoes australia free shipping.
nike free run 2 mens sale shoes new collection Australia.
Nike free run 2011 womens online store.
Nike free run 2 womens cheap shoes for saleonline store.
Nike free run 2 womens purple online store.
Nike free run 2 womens sale online shopping.
Nike free run black shoes collection.
Nike free run 2 womens running shoes online store.
Nike free run blue shoes online store.
Cheap Nike free 2011 2011 new style running shoes
new nike free 2012 2012 new Nike running shoes