Flying cars promising more efficient numbers than ground transport

Flying in cars is definitely a very attractive idea, but are they really a feasible solution when it comes to efficiency? That is a debatable topic which has been going on for a while.

According to some researchers, flying cars will consume less fuel on long trips. One would definitely consider a flying car then.




However, traveling by air does consume a tremendous amount of energy. You are practically going against gravity. You achieve lift off and then you stay airborne for the rest of your trip.

While airborne, time is definitely what you are going to save. Can you say the same about the fuel? Not likely. Although, if we break down the flight segments of a normal flight of a passenger plane, we’ll find out that when the plane reaches the altitude line, it starts cruising at high speeds. So whether your altitude is low or high, there isn’t a lot of friction.

Image result for flying in cars
Pic Credit: Forbes

Researchers from the University of Michigan have been trying to find a balance between flight and efficiency. Apparently, they have.

They have been doing research on models both for ground transport and electric vertical take-off and landing(VTOL) aircraft. The aircraft specs are from aerospace companies that work on aircraft.



Noah Furbush, who is the study’s co-author, says in a U-M statement that, “Our model represents general trends in the VTOL space and uses parameters from multiple studies and aircraft designs to specify weight, lift-to-drag ratio, and battery-specific energy.”

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The study revolves around the various vehicles taking different people traveling some distance while keeping the energy consumption comparison of all scenarios.

Flying car vs gas-powered car vs Electric car

It’s a given that flying isn’t a practical solution from an efficiency point of view when traveling short distances. However, when you cross the 100km mark things start telling another story. According to statistics, if a person travels in a flying car for 100 km, they will save around 35% more energy than a person traveling in a gas-powered car for the same trip. Meanwhile, they will consume 28 % more energy than an electric vehicle. The flying car catches to the gas-powered car around the 40km mark when it comes to efficiency.

ICEV: Internal combustion engine vehicle; VTOL: Vertical takeoff and landing; BEV: Battery electric vehicle. The vertical axis is emissions.

The numbers make the situation better as they have been assuming the flying cars are having a full cabin. One pilot/driver and 3 passengers. While the ground vehicle has been going under test with a 1.5 passenger capacity. In this scenario, the flying model wins, barely, due to the onboard passenger capacity. This might not seem like much in the efficiency department, but when we factor in time, the flying vehicle takes the cake. The flying vehicle will complete the trip in only the quarter of the time taken by the ground vehicle. There will be no traffic issues and then there is the view.

These are just theoretical studies for now. Regardless, this will surely help companies in devising their market strategies and business model. It is safe to say though that the reality will be different than the numbers on paper. Still, who wouldn’t want to take flying trips in cars? I know I would.

Let us know what you think about flying in a car in the comment section below!

JACK NICAS

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