The (unrealistic) Future Of High-Tech Cars

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Article by Paul Turner

If you ever want a good laugh, take a few minutes to hop on the Internet and search for some clippings from about a hundred years ago that try to offer up predictions on what kind of cars and automobiles we would be driving in the 21st century. It's hilarious to look at drawings of what people thought we would be driving, from flying cars to automobiles that looked like some sort of messed up combinations of bicycles and hot air balloons. If there is one constant when it comes to predictions of future automobiles, it is this: they are almost always way off the mark and totally wrong. Having said that, let's take a more pragmatic look at what automobiles of the future might resemble and the different influences that could shape the cars of tomorrow.

First of all, let's get rid of the old cliche about us driving flying cars someday in the future. That is almost certainly not going to happen anytime in the next hundred years. And it's not because of limits of technology, either; sure, we could probably create automobiles that really did fly if we wanted or needed to. The real reason why flying cars will never happen is simple: it's safety. Just look at the automobiles of today and how many of them get into crashes every single day around the world. And that is when they are limited to just two dimensions of travel! If you added another dimension (up and down) to the options for travel that car drivers have, you would see a massive increase in the amount of crashes, deaths and injuries. Not only that, but the technology required is so expensive it can hardly be reproduced on a mass (and economical) scale.

I know what you're going to say: that if technology allowed us to just type or state a destination and have the flying car take us there automatically, then it would get rid of human error. And yes, that is a valid point. But the fact of the matter is that technology of that kind does not exist yet, and when it is perfected enough to place in automobiles, it will likely be extremely expensive. You would probably see an economic disparity between who was travelling in the new, slick, safe flying cars, and the poorer people who were still bound to drive themselves around in the much less safe two-dimensional automobiles. Until the technology becomes both possible and cheap, you will probably not see many cars zipping around in the skies.

Besides, as of right now traffic in the skies is regulated by the government, and the flight paths and routes for airplanes have to be approved ahead of time by officials who keep track of where everything is flying. If you added automobiles to the mix, the problems that would face traffic controllers would likely be extreme. So as of right now, the future of high-tech cars and automobiles is likely to be right here on the ground where they are now. While flying cars might someday come to pass, you probably shouldn't count on it anytime in the next hundred years or so.