Since I was a child, I’ve always been fascinated by the possibility of having a flying car. In other words, one that can move in 3D as opposed to 2D (and more often) 1D.
There have been many previous attempts at this, it’s not a novel idea. Some are quite hard to believe – see here and the picture below.
So I was interested to read about a modern version of this idea in Der Spiegel recently. The project is in the research concept (flying robotic drone) stage at present but it sounds quite fascinating.
Here’s a photo and some extracts:
But now Europe wants to soar past the competition — with partially autonomous flying cars. The €4.3-million ($5.5-million) EU program called “myCopter” is designed to help develop the third dimension for personal travel as part of a so-called “personal air transport system” (PATS).
Of course, the dream is almost as old as the airplane itself. As long ago as 1917, a prototype made the first hops into the sky. In the United States, the Terrafugia project is on the verge of introducing its flying-car concept vehicle on the market.
Still, if large numbers of commuters are to fly through cities in the future, collisions and crashes are to be expected, unless the machines are largely self-guided.
In a sense, the drones learned their swarming behaviour from Batman. It is based on the so-called Reynolds algorithm developed by the American programmer Craig Reynolds in 1986. Reynolds later created digital swarms of bats for films, such as “Batman Returns.”
Reynolds recognized that the complex choreography of a flock of birds or a school of fish is surprisingly simple. It requires no more than a few simple commands, such as “maintain the same distance from all neighbors” and “fly with them in a single direction.”
Maybe Woody Allen’s look at the future might eventually come true?