In Brief
  • Elon Musk has publicly stated that he thinks flying cars are not the answer to our traffic and roadway concerns.
  • Many companies have already begun developing flying car models, but Musk thinks that they could be a dangerous, ineffective way to transform roadways.

Not a Scalable Solution

As far as the future of our roadways is concerned, the Tesla and SpaceX CEO isn’t placing his bets on flying cars. For someone who’s into bold and disruptive technology, Elon Musk’s stance on flying cars appears to be a contradiction — more so since his proposed solution to congested traffic seems crazier. “Obviously, I like flying things,” Musk told Bloomberg’s Max Chafkin. “But it’s difficult to imagine the flying car becoming a scalable solution.”

A future with flying cars has long been the subject of science fiction . That’s why, a number of companies are hard at work trying to make it a reality. Among these, aerospace giant Airbus seems to be taking the lead, and they want their autonomous flying vehicles in the skies (and on the roads) by the end of this year. Google co-founder Larry Page is also working on his own flying car with the elusive startup Zee.Aero. Even the concept of drone-like cars is being explored.

Even Uber wants its own fleet of flying cars, leveraging on vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) technology, and they already have plans that include the infrastructure needed to make it work.

This is close to flying a Tesla could get. Image credit: Tesla
Image Credit: Tesla

Firmly on the Ground

Despite all this development, Musk is convinced that flying cars won’t ease traffic on the ground, and he may have a point. Especially since a lot of flying car models are opting for VTOL versions, they won’t really be cars, in the strictest sense. Additionally, other models in development still need runway-like space to take off.

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For Musk, Silicon Valley’s obsession with flying cars won’t be great for city travel. Flying cars, he explained, would need to generate considerable downward force to keep them flying. That translates to a lot of noise and wind for those on the ground. There’s also the probability of debris falling in the case of mid-air fender-benders. “If somebody doesn’t maintain their flying car, it could drop a hubcap and guillotine you,” he said. “Your anxiety level will not decrease as a result of things that weigh a lot buzzing around your head.”

And Musk would rather keep his head, thank you very much, even if it means boring a whole underground.