Tuesday, January 13, 2009
Flying Cars Still a Bad Idea
There's been much discussion and media buzz lately about the impending test-flight of the Transition "flying car." No pun, but I've been down this road before. Cool though they are in concept, there's just no practical application (other than as a rich-person's plaything) for flying cars, for a number of fundamental reasons.
Go read my old post about it here. Nothing has really changed (except the tanked economy makes the commercial success of this thing even less likely).
Specifically, just take a look at this thing. It makes an ugly little car (it's not exactly a pretty airplane either), and I'll bet it drives about as well as it looks. It has two seats, no trunk, and it's likely that the slightest fender bender will render it unairworthy.
None of this would be a deal-breaker if it cost the same as an ugly little car, but the anticipated cost (and these things have a way of inflating before they're finalized) is close to $200k. If I pay $200K for a car, I expect it to go more than 65mph (165mph is more like it) or at least have a wet bar in the back. (In fact, the Transition only goes 115mph as an airplane, and it doesn't even have a back.)
Though I remembered my post on this subject, I'd forgotten I'd talked about some other perpetual futuristic ideas I thought were also bad ideas (video-phones, touch-screen computers) and those I thought would eventually catch on (ebooks readers).
So far, looks like I'm right about the video phones. Touch-screen computers of various sorts are starting to show some promise thanks to improved interface design, but I'm still doubtful these are ever going to become more than a secondary input device on non-handheld devices.
As for ebooks, sales were a rare growth area over the holidays, and Amazon is once again sold out of its Kindle reader. I think we've finally hit critical mass on this technology, though prices still need to come down, and the devices need to be more flexible.
All in all, my crystal ball is still looking pretty shiny at the moment.
Which makes me feel bad, because the Terrafugia folks who make the Transition are certainly very clever people. I just don't see it ending well though. Sorry, guys.