Flying Cars Ready for Take Off – 4 Design Opportunities for the Future of Travel?

We’ve been keeping a close eye on eVTOL’s (electric vertical take-off and landing aircraft), hydrogen powered planes, personal drone technology, autonomous air vehicles and beyond. We even love a personal jet pack, let’s be honest!

So it’s pretty exciting to hear that a flying car has been awarded air worthiness by the Slovak Transport Authority, as reported in this BBC news feature online.

Impressively, this vehicle can hit speeds of 100mph and soar at altitudes of above 8,000 feet and completed a test flight of 35 minutes between Slovakian airports Nitra and Bratislava.

Vehicles that offer this dual purpose require a little more validation than most. The example in this feature, the PAL-V Liberty is legal on the road in Europe but will also require European Union Air Safety certification.

With take-off and landing deployed in the style of a normal plane, the AirCar requires not only a drivers license, but also a pilot’s licence, although in the future there are plans for autonomous flight, including take-off and landing.

With so many variables to operate one of these personal travel beasts, what other sorts of variables must designers, the world over, be considering as our world gets evermore technical and ever so slightly (hello understatement), complicated?

Image Credits (Cover image and above image): Lease Fletcher

Signalling

What is the first thing that springs to mind when you think about driving? Perhaps it’s the signalling and signage that guides you on your way. Our roads are steeped in informative messaging at every turn (and every straight!), from physical signage to road markings and streetlights, traffic lights and the rules of the highway ingrained in memory from our theory tests to boot.

So how do you design signage to ensure the AirCar user understands the limits at the juncture they find themselves at – if indeed there are any! Does general road signage apply to the AirCar, but then the driver, or rather pilot, needs to memorise the air travel rules fully? And what about air traffic control?!

No doubt a super slick agency somewhere is creating a virtual dashboard for the driver-come-pilot to be able to check the stats at a glance – an adaptation of the Hololens helmet perhaps? Providing real-time road and air updates, highway and air path rules, as they go, using the same slick technology the forces are benefiting from.

So what does the signage of the future look like? Check out this feature from Lease Fletcher – the team mocked up some road signs of the future and there are a certainly a few in there that we think fit with the cars of the future! Ok this one might be slightly next level, but it made us smile >>>

Image Credit: Lease Fletcher

Legal Checks

Further, if the car is in the air, how do you mandate vehicle road worthiness? Is there a layby concept for the sky being created somewhere, so the police can dutifully fly alongside the air path perhaps and issue the user a swift speeding fine? Or maybe it’s simply a speed gun that works whilst flying alongside the offender. Or maybe it’s a built-in device that naturally hooks the driver up with the ‘system’ and issue any penalties there? There could be no escape!

Of course, that then provokes the question of data protection and privacy laws moving forward – the advent of the AirCar coming into use could create a very interesting time for designers, marketers and data officers everywhere!

Mobile Phones

Monitoring the use of smartphone technology would likely be an impossible challenge with AirCars whizzing around on the ground, in the air and even somewhere in between, especially when you consider that your hybrid vehicle would most likely be at least partly operated by your smartphone.

In theory the technology that enables you to control your hybrid with your phone, would surely disable you from having a quick catch-up with your partner whilst you’re on your way home?

Or would it? Perhaps by the time these versatile machines become prevalent, they are simply driving themselves. Which provokes thought on the issue of the big morality question further when we are considering flight as well as road use. Currently the concern is around saving the mum and baby crossing the street or saving the driver. Imagine the considerations when you add flight to the conundrum.

Accessories

And so to the super fun part – accessories. The designers in the future accessories market for cars that can fly, could be set to have a great time.

Of course, this is very much cart before the horse – until many of the previous ‘design queries’ are answered there may not really be an understanding of the design need here, so let’s look at the fun part…

Perhaps for retro sake flight cases will become a must have for all your wares that sit in the boot – wait – does it even have a boot?

Whilst helmets of course would not be a requirement for your AirCar, who doesn’t want an Iceman or Maverick helmet style hat, complete with matching dog tag to wear whilst they fly their AirCar – come on – we know you want one!

Not to mention the other in-car standard features of the future surely, such as wireless phone charging, car to car communication tools, and if you’re flying, don’t forget your packet of complimentary nuts, with your in-car allergy air purifier!

Too much?! Let’s wait and see!

We hope you enjoyed this fun feature as a little departure for a bleak February to make you smile!

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If you have a concept of the future to bring to life, we would love to hear about it – drop us a line at contact@conficio.design and learn how we can help you make your vision a reality.