One of the five million or so things I love about life is coming across a headline so incredible, so fantastic, so laden with unintended consequences that it causes your mind to reel, even as it causes your heart to sink and your stomach to churn. Exhibit A: “Uber and Hyundai Unveil Flying Car Model for Future Air Taxi Service“, whence comes this:
Uber Technologies Inc. is working on a flying car with Hyundai Motor Co., the first automaker to buy into Uber’s dream for a network of air taxis dotting the skies of major cities … Hyundai’s aerial taxi would be able to take off and land vertically, accommodate four passengers and cruise at up to 200 miles per hour. It would be fully electric with a range of 60 miles.
I’m neither a mathematician nor an aeronautical engineer. But you might not want to use the Hovering Hyundai for anything more than a hop to the the corner store for milk and bread. Simple arithmetic tells me that, with a 60-mile range, traveling at 200 miles per hour, you’ll be in a vertical dive at terminal velocity in 18 minutes.
Wow. Just wow.
Look On the Bright Side
Right now, there are insurance-industry executives, actuaries, and underwriters salivating over the possiblities. “Well, yes, Mr. Schmidlap, in addition to your basic auto coverage, we recommend flight insurance, comprehensive coverage for your glass and your propellers, maximum limits for bodily injury, and a shitload of property damage because you have no idea where the hell you’re going to crash.”
The residential-construction industry is all abuzz over this news because the profit margins on steel girders, reinforced concrete roofs, and steel siding are higher than those of wood, asphalt shingles, and vinyl. On the other hand, environmentalists are kind of bummed because vast acres of pine, fir hemlock, spruce, redwood, cedar, and plywood trees will now be deforested.
Municipalities are prettty juiced about this thing, too. They’ll be able to grow their bureucracies dramatically by adding armies of air-traffic controllers; although, they may have a hard time deciding whether to add them to their Police or Fire Departments. And in another development we’re supposed to believe is unrelated to the impending arrival of the Hovering Hyundai, Uber announced it also will be getting into the ambulance business. Uh huh.
Hyundai and Uber, of course, remained mum on whether the new vehicles would contain Tesla’s popular and highly successful Auto Pilot feature.
Oh, baby. The shit is about to hit the propellers, kids. It won’t be pretty. But it sure will be fun.