Here’s a cool thing: the famous flying car is finally here: http://www.terrafugia.com/Video_News_Release.html
In 2006 the Boston Herald ran this article: http://www.terrafugia.com/news/archives/2006-0419-BostonHerald.pdf. Note the delivery date for the working prototype was 2008 with commercial product available by now. So we’re about a year behind schedule. Not bad. We’ll be seeing these things in the air in our lifetime.
Reality check: This is not a flying car. It’s a combo car/airplane meant to take off and land at airports, not your driveway. The idea is you use the car to drive to the airport and instead of paying for parking and buying a seat on a plane, you take off into the wild blue yonder yourself. I’m sure it won’t be as cheap as all that. I imagine there are fees to do this sort of thing, but I also can’t imagine that it will cost anywhere near what parking at Philly’s airport does. The last time I did that, the parking was more expensive than the flight.
At any rate, if you’re up for the twenty hours’ time it takes to get your pilot’s license as well as the amount of money it will cost to buy the thing (back in 2006 they predicted it would be about $50,000 cheaper than buying a Cessna 171) you will be the proud owner of a plane with retractable wings. A flight-enabled car, if you will. The great thing is that even if you can’t fly it home, you can at least park it in your driveway. These bragging rights alone will probably drive this industry.
Point is, this is not the George Jetson car plane we have all been waiting for. Too bad. So sad.
So what’s next then for the rest of us? Realistically what we are waiting for is the autopiloted car. How far away can it be? We’ve already got Matilde, the GPS hostess, recalculating every time we countermand her orders. She’s clever that Matilde is, and accurate. How long before she’s actually driving the vehicle without us? http://blogs.consumerreports.org/cars/2007/11/car-autopilot-t.html
The sooner we get this the better, in my opinion. As long as it’s got accident avoidance software and the sensory hardware to go with it, a computer will be better at driving under hazardous conditions such as at night in general, in blinding snow storms, in blinding rain storms, and with a pack of blind drunk teenagers in the car, than a human ever could be.
The one drawback with Matilde is that since she’s moved into the family, my orienteering skills have deteriorated. Now that I no longer use Rand McNally or Mapquest to get somewhere new, I’ve lost my ability to read maps and figure out how to get to strange places in my neighborhood. Matilde has dumbed me down. Things are safer and more efficient with the GPS system, but we are all definitely getting dumber.
Even pre-Singularity, we are losing our survival skills.