Elon Musk says no to flying cars


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I forget who said it, but we already have flying cars: they are called airplanes


Tunnels? Who does he think we are, Morlocks? Elon, you have no vision, and where there is no vision the people perish, so I think a few fatalities are a small price to pay for flying cars. In fact, I think I have the whole crashing thing worked out: flying Nerf cars.

Call me, I’m sure we can work out a limited partnership. With my brains and your brawn, nothing can stop us!



Yeah, because that’s going so well in Seattle.


The real reason that we won’t have flying cars is because cars and aircraft are so different.

Did you ever have a small fender-bender? If the damage looks cosmetic, you’re probably fine to drive. I hit a deer and 90%-totaled my car, but I rather safely continued on a 4-hour drive because dammit, I was going to hike the mountains that day and no stupid deer was going to stop me. If someone bumped into my plane at the grocery store, I’d have it towed for a multi-thousand-dollar inspection before flying.

The other thing is crash resistance. A Bell 407 helicopter will seat 7 adults comfortably (plus you could fit 2 people in the trunk - it’s huge!!) and go 150mph all day on its 800hp engine. It weighs the same as a mazda miata. The difference is that you could punch a hole through the 407’s skin with a screwdriver - it isn’t built for any kind of side impact (falls downward yes, side impacts no). Being hit by a Vespa would be bad.

Tunnels are good. One of the big reasons that high-speed trains work so well in Japan vs. the trains we have in the US is that the passenger trains have their own dedicated tracks - no road crossings, no sharing with slow freight.


Please don’t get him started on those…

Tunnels require huge amount of planning and construction - if we were building cities from scratch that might have been the way to do it, but going back and building tunnels is hugely expensive.

But that really is a distraction from the main idea; we don’t need to have flying cars in cities, where we need them is between cities. You can reduce the chances of falling on people’s heads by creating air highways that go over less populated areas, and micro airports that allow people to drive to and from less populated areas to take off and land, transitioning from air to road. All of that requires significantly less infrastructure, and could even be tied in to mass transit to further reduce city congestion. And we don’t need to do it with every car - traffic isn’t a linear function of the number of cars on the road, so even reducing by a significant percentage could really reduce jams exponentially.

Man, that Elon Musk; he’s got no vision. :smile:


Also - quite a bit more expensive than a Miata. $2.6million?

This is what flying cars would look like:

London helicopter crash

You could solve a lot of these problems with dedicated steel rails… they could guide the flying cars, even support the weight and remove the whole need for flying, and…


As much as I love driving, what we need is self drive cars. Systems that won’t rubberneck when an accident happens, cars that will go the speedlimit (or faster), the ability to pack twice as many cars into the same space and still move at a good pace. That alone would solve a lot of congestion problems.


Looks like somebody isn’t listening to Elon Musk



Also, $528/hour running costs :smile:


I think the more elegant solution to the problem is zero-gravity devices.


My basic argument is look at how much trouble we have driving in essentially 2 dimensions. As cool as the idea is, it is also a nightmare when you look at the reality of it.


We need murder-clone devices.


“Transporters”. We call them “transporters”. Didn’t they teach you anything at Starfleet Academy, ensign?


With flying cars your first thought is “wow, that would be cool if I had one!”, but then you realize that “crap . . . all my neighbors will have one too”, and the idea of traffic jams over your head, crashes on your roof, and the constant drone of engines kills the idea.

[quote=“pesco, post:1, topic:55194”]a car could potentially fall on your head[/quote]I love this populist language. None of this talk of “risks” or statistics – just to the point. It bodes well for other technologies he may seek to push.


The problem isn’t just the fact that aircraft and ground vehicles are so different and that any attempt to do both would inevitably do both functions poorly. It is also with the unstated assumption behind the term “Flying Car,” rather than “roadable airplane.” It is the assumption that flying can be made as simple and reliable as driving. There are good and sufficient reasons that aircraft cost more than cars and flying licenses are significantly more difficult to get than driving licenses.