Why Don't We Still Have Flying Cars From Blade Runner Movie

A world with flying cars has been a popular fantasy for more than a century. And this is a possibility thanks to today's superior technology. So what's stopping us now?

Isn’t modern technology supposed to make gadgets of the future a reality? What about those flying cars we have seen in the Blade Runner movies, and the Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets? When do I get to fly around in my Ford Mondeo? Surely with airplanes of all sizes being a common sight, flying cars can’t be all that hard to make.

Syd Mead, an American neo-futurist concept artist, and industrial engineer, created the Spinners featured in the first Blade Runner film released in 1982. These Spinners could be operated as ground-based vehicles; they could take off vertically, hover, and make use of jet propulsion to cruise, just like the VTOL aircraft of today. Isn’t this everything we’ve wanted in our flying cars?

If we agree, then you would be overjoyed to know that some good people did work on similar designs. These vehicles, however, feature little wings and take off like airplanes, bringing in the need for runways. Now that wouldn’t be ideal, would it? Just imagine the chaos that ensued from random cars taking off from runways in your neighborhood!

Companies are hence focused on designing a flying car that does not require a runway to take off. Although vertical take-off is a feature of the Harrier ‘Jump Jet’, a staple of many air forces around the world, it is still yet to find its place in civilian practice, apart from helicopters. The costs involved to develop, and high levels of pilot training to operate have been an obstacle to its mass adoption.

Another desirable feature in our flying cars would be autopilot- modern planes and even Teslas have some form of it. However, the inability of autopilot systems to make correct decisions in unexpected situations renders them too dangerous. This is significant because of the high likelihood of unanticipated events occurring while the vehicle is in the air.  The acoustic impact resulting from flying cars taking off and landing in cities is another significant issue yet to be solved. To prevent cities from becoming uninhabitable, it would be imperative for hundreds of these vehicles to operate in silence. 

While modern technology has come a long way, we are yet to reach the heights needed to make flying cars a reality. It is a matter of when, rather than if, and until then, let our dreams fly.