In the 1980s, flying cars and robots driving vehicles were two of the most popular ambitions. These futuristic fantasies ensnared the collective imagination and fueled dreams of a world where technology integrated into everyday life, with sky being the limit. Fast forward to the present day, and while we may not have flying cars buzzing overhead or fully autonomous vehicles dominating the roads just yet, significant strides have been made in both arenas.

While flying cars have long been a reality (beginning in the 1950s), the prospect of a commercially available flying car has always seemed too challenging. However, as we inch closer to realizing this dream, it’s imperative to consider the implications of introducing such technology into our transportation ecosystem. In particular, the question arises: shouldn’t the first commercial flying car be self-driving?

At first glance, the idea of a self-driving flying car may seem like a natural progression in our expedition for convenience and efficiency. After all, autonomous technology has already begun to revolutionize traditional ground transportation and promise increased safety and reduced congestion.

One of the main and somewhat debated reasons supporting self-driving flying cars is safety, with opinions differing among people. Some argue that autonomous systems, which are not influenced by human error or bias, could significantly decrease the chances of accidents in the sky. We’ll get deeper into this argument as the article progresses.

The integration of self-driving technology could also democratize access to flying cars, making them more accessible to a wider range of consumers. Eliminating the need for specialized piloting skills, autonomous flying cars could become as ubiquitous as their ground-bound counterparts.

Surprising as it may seem, though, up to 75% of people, as indicated by recent studies, incline towards driving their own vehicles rather than opting for the autonomous alternative.

Now, unlike terrestrial vehicles, which operate within well-defined roadways and traffic patterns, flying cars would navigate a vastly more complex and unpredictable environment. Airspace is governed by a multitude of regulations, air traffic control protocols, and safety procedures, all of which would need to be integrated into autonomous systems.

The consequences of failure in an airborne vehicle are inherently more severe than those on the ground. A malfunction or programming error could have fatal implications not only for the occupants of the flying car but also for those on the ground below. The stakes are undeniably higher when operating in three-dimensional space, requiring a level of reliability and redundancy that far exceeds current automotive standards.

But again, looking from another, arguably more sensible angle, as flying cars operate in a complex and potentially hazardous environment, necessitating precise navigation and rapid decision-making would actually be key. Self-driving technology offers the promise of enhanced safety by mitigating human error and providing easy integration with existing aviation infrastructure.

Now, the reason we’re advocating for the first commercial flying car to be self-driving is considering the necessity of a smooth transition from road traffic to air traffic. This also applies to other transitions, like the transition from human to robot workers in the workforce. In case of flying cars, autonomous technology ensures a smoother and more structured integration into the skies. With emotionless AI at the helm, everything becomes more balanced and structured. The potential for human error all but vanishes (except for ones in programming). With AI, air traffic will be super organized and balanced, you know, civilized.

Despite the inherent challenges, the case for self-driving flying cars remains compelling, albeit with some caveats. Of course, the technology is probably not ready for widespread deployment today. However, ongoing progress in artificial intelligence-driven sensor technology and aviation systems may soon bridge the gap towards the debut of the first commercially available autonomous flying vehicle.

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