Flying Cars: 8 Ground Rules Americans Agree On

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CARS.COM — Gen Xers be like, “We were told there’d be flying cars.” But we’ve been strung along over the years by sci-fi films from “Blade Runner” to “Back to the Future” to no avail — yet. Flying cars have a long history in our culture’s collective imagination, and vehicle and aircraft manufacturers have been experimenting with the concept for decades — but things may finally be getting off the ground in earnest.

Related: Goes Back … to the Future

“Until recently, flying cars have existed primarily in the realm of science fiction, although patents for such vehicles extend to the early years of aviation,” stated Michael Sivak and Brandon Schoettle, researchers for the University of Michigan’s Transportation Research Institute. “However, recently there has been a rapid increase in interest in flying cars from companies ranging from large, international manufacturers to a variety of startups.”

Building flying cars is one thing, but regulating them, implementing traffic control systems, and licensing and insuring them is a whole other set of challenges — as the driverless car movement is discovering now. UMTRI researchers conducted a study to determine what would-be flying-car shoppers across the U.S. want, need and expect of airborne automobiles beyond massively reduced commute times.

Here are eight things consumers want from flying cars:

Well, Chute.

The overwhelming majority of respondents consider having parachutes on hand in case they need to bail out “extremely” or “very” important.

That’s … encouraging …

Range Anxiety

The desired range between refueling or recharging is 400 miles.

You think your Low Fuel light coming on is stressful now?

Ready for Takeoff?

The appropriate number of hours of flight training required to get one’s license is 20.

That’s roughly half the hours required to become a certified child-seat installation technician. Just, ya know, for comparison.

Straight Up

Takeoffs and landings should be vertical, like a helicopter, as opposed to requiring a flat strip, like an airplane.

Someone make sure Harrison Ford is clear on this.


Flying cars should be able to carry three to four people.

Though in United cars, you may need to give up your seat in the event of overbooking.

Autonomous Taxis

Flying taxicabs should be self-driving as opposed to operated by a licensed professional.

Good idea. No strange aromas — and more importantly, no tipping!


How much would you pay for the beautiful, brand-new flying car of your dreams? Something in the range of $100,000 to $200,000.

Emphasis on the part where you’re dreaming.

Sky-High Insurance

Americans are willing to double their auto insurance premiums for the gift of flight.

Yeah, sure. If your deductible is $50 million.

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