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Meet George Jetson: Most Americans favor flying cars

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Flying car icon via The Noun ProjectANN ARBOR—Despite considerable concerns about the safety of flying cars, two-thirds of Americans say they would like to ride in or operate their own airborne vehicle.

A new study by researchers at the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute shows that 41 percent of adult respondents to an online survey are "very interested" in riding in a fully autonomous (self-driving and self-flying) flying car. That compares to 26 percent of those who are "very interested" in operating the aerocar themselves after obtaining an appropriate pilot license.

"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," said Michael Sivak, a research professor at UMTRI. "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.

"In addition to major technological, traffic-control and licensing issues that still will need to be addressed, a big unknown is what consumers think of the concept of flying cars, and what the desirable parameters are for such a novel approach to mobility."

In their study, Sivak and UMTRI colleague Brandon Schoettle found that more than 60 percent of respondents are "very concerned" with the overall safety of flying cars and with their performance in congested airspace and poor weather.

Despite these concerns, most Americans would still ultimately like to use flying cars, the researchers said. About three-fourths of the respondents cited shorter travel time as the main reason, while less than 10 percent said fewer crashes, better fuel economy or lower emissions were the most likely benefits of flying cars.

Other findings include:

  • Nearly 80 percent of respondents said it is "extremely or very important" for flying cars to have parachutes.
  • About 60 percent said electricity is the preferred source of energy for flying cars.
  • More than 80 percent prefer a vertical, helicopter-like takeoff and landing as opposed to a runway strip.
  • Nearly a quarter said they would pay between $100,000 and $200,000 for a flying car.

 

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