Up, up and away: Flying-cars vision soars in Dubai


flying-cars visionAs Travelers United has predicted, the world of unmanned aerial vehicles is growing more quickly than US government officials’ flying-cars vision; that is, if there is any future planning going on at the FAA. The proposed Travelers United “Future of Unmanned Aviation Committee” has already been considered for the FAA funding bill and is under consideration again with Congress.

The proposed advisory committee will look at the infrastructure needs for the emerging new layer of drone and flying car transportation in the future decade or two.

City planners at the World Bank are already discussing these issues with Travelers United staff. The development of a new autonomous transportation system sandwiched between the manned aviation network controlled by air traffic controllers and the surface transportation system, is in full swing. Only the US has no plans to participate with any flying-car vision.

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So far, the woeful Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has all but ignored the future technology coming online for an unmanned aviation world. Making rules for operation aviation systems is necessary for the testing phase; however, the US needs to look further into the future to make infrastructure changes and develop a new regulatory system for this new technology.

Last month, the CEO of Airbus announced that his corporation would be introducing a flying car prototype by the end of 2017. And just last week, Dubai announced a partnership with a Chinese firm to test flying cars in their city. This new world is coming whether the FAA is ready of not. The only question will be how far behind the US will fall without a structure to build out this new level of transportation.

The arrival of the Chinese-made EHang 184 — which already has had its flying debut over Dubai’s iconic, sail-shaped Burj al-Arab skyscraper hotel — comes as the Emirati city also has partnered with other cutting-edge technology companies, including Hyperloop One.

The question is whether the egg-shaped, four-legged craft will really take off as a transportation alternative in this car-clogged city already home to the world’s longest driverless metro line.

Mattar al-Tayer, the head of Dubai’s Roads & Transportation Agency, announced plans to have the craft regularly flying at the World Government Summit. Before his remarks on Monday, most treated the four-legged, eight-propeller craft as just another curiosity at an event that views itself as a desert Davos.

“This is not only a model,” al-Tayer said. “We have actually experimented with this vehicle flying in Dubai’s skies.”

This is not science fiction. The French aviation giant, Airbus, has a flying-cars vision. The Chinese are already testing their flying-cars vision. Where is the US? We are mired in red tape that gets headlines from the Super Bowl halftime show that was smoke and mirrors. But, our FAA is not looking into harnessing the future.

Where US industry and NASA have tested autonomous flight systems, our technology is wonderful. It is cutting edge. However, the lack of a flying-cars vision means that testing and deployment of much US technology is taking place out of our country.

Unmanned aerial vehicles are a reality and something that our country needs to make plans for today, not in the far future when US industry is woefully behind the rest of the world.