Flying cars always work perfectly in the movies. But now that we’re close to actually building some, we’re finding they come with all sorts of problems. Perhaps the most prominent technological hurdle: striking the delicate balance between equipping the vehicles with a battery powerful enough to actually do anything useful, and not having a battery so heavy that it weighs down the entire vehicle.
One California start-up came up with a new solution that involves keeping so-called flying cars on a pretty short leash. Karman Electric proposes tethering flying cars to a crisscrossed network of power lines. As WIRED reported, they already began testing the concept with quadcopter drones.
Tethering a flying car to the ground may avoid the big battery problem, but it introduces a whole slew of other logistical problems.
In order to prevent bird strikes and collisions with primitive, terrestrial commuters, Karman envisions flying cars that use this upside-down trolley system in less populated areas (another problem: who’s gonna pay for that?). As they approach cities and towns, pilots would be able to detach from their earthly bonds and use stored-up battery power to elevate above those land-bound suckers.
If the most energy-efficient way to use a flying car is to tether it to the ground on a specific, pre-defined pathway, why not just take a train? We already have those, and they work pretty well.
READ MORE: To Solve Flying Cars’ Biggest Problem, Tie Them to Power Lines [WIRED]
More on the challenges of flying cars: Uber Plans To Launch Flying Taxis With Technology That Doesn’t Exist