Green Flying Cars

Study: Flying Cars Could End Up Being Greener Than Electric Cars

But they won't be here in time.

4. 30. 19 by Victor Tangermann
Image by Shutterstock

Late to the Party

In a new study published in the journal Nature, a group of researchers from Ford Motors’ Research and Innovation Center in Michigan argue that electric flying cars could actually end up reducing emissions over electric cars back on the ground — and free up congested roads in the process.

But unfortunately, there’s a pretty big catch.

“However, gaps in necessary technology and practical uncertainties beyond the cars’ promising physics mean that they may not arrive in time to be a large-scale solution to the energy crisis and congestion — if at all,” wrote Hugh Hunt, a researcher at the University of Cambridge who wasn’t involved with the research, a piece discussing the study for The Conversation.

VTOL Future

It seems counter-intuitive that flying cars could have a lower environmental than electric ones while dealing with with air resistance and drag. But the authors of the study found that in their base case of travelling 60 miles, flying a vertical-takeoff-and-landing (VTOL) vehicle such as a flying car could end up cutting emissions by 35 percent compared to a single occupant in a combustion engine car.


And even with three passengers on board a flying car, emissions are still six percent lower compared to an electric vehicle with the U.S. ground-based travel average of 1.54 passengers on board.


But the new numbers also assume future technological innovations from optimum wing designs to low-power electric motors and high-efficiency batteries. The study also found those advantages to diminish with distances longer than 120 miles.

“With technology and safety improvements, they could yet play a part in our fossil-fuel-free future, taking short-haul planes out of our skies and freeing up fume-filled roads,” Hunt argues.

READ MORE: Flying cars could cut emissions, replace planes, and free up roads – but not soon enough [The Conversation]


More on flying cars: Goodyear’s New Concept Tire Doubles as a Flying Car Propeller

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