Is a Flying Car in Your Future?

03 May, 2017

Two weeks ago, we reported about developments with electric planes and flying cars. That technology could bring change to commercial and personal travel.

Last week, two companies, Kitty Hawk and Uber, announced their plans to bring flying cars to reality very soon.

Sooner than you think, flying cars may appear in the skies. Imagine never having to worry about traffic, stoplights, or road construction. A flying car could get somewhere much faster than one traveling by road.

On the other hand, imagine having to avoid drones and other flying cars. Also, what if your battery dies when you are in the air? And, how will you know where to land?

Kitty Hawk

Kitty Hawk is a start-up tech company supported by Google co-founder, Larry Page. Kitty Hawk president, Sebastian Thrun, helped start Google's self-driving car project.

Thrun announced Kitty Hawk's flying car plans last Monday in a tweet.

The car is electric-powered and moved by eight rotor blades. Kitty Hawk wants people to be able to buy its flying car by the end of 2017.

According to the Kitty Hawk website, the car will be able to travel at speeds up to 40 kilometers an hour. It says under US aviation law such a machine "does not require registration or a pilot's license and may be flown in uncongested areas for recreational purposes." As of now, the car can only be flown over fresh water.

Kitty Hawk is making a list of people interested in buying the flying car. They must pay a deposit of $100. Those who get their names on the list early will receive $2000 off the final cost of the car. However, Kitty Hawk has not yet announced the price.

Kitty Hawk expects its first flying cars will go on sale by the end of this year.

Uber Flying Taxis

At a conference last week, Uber announced plans for flying taxis to begin carrying passengers. The company expects to launch flying fleets in Dallas-Ft. Worth, Texas, US and Dubai in the United Arab Emirates by 2020.

Unlike the Kitty Hawk company, Uber does not plan to build its flying cars. Instead, it will use the resources of partner companies.

Like the Kitty Hawk car, Uber flying taxis will use electric power.

Uber says its flying taxis could travel up to 241 kilometers an hour. The company said that could reduce the travel time between San Francisco and San Jose, California from 2 hours on the road to 15 minutes in the air.

Uber Flying Taxis
Uber Flying Taxis

Riders could use the Uber app to book a flying taxi to take them to their destinations. The company has not yet said how costly air taxi travel would be compared to road taxi travel.

I'm Caty Weaver.

Carolyn Nicander Mohr wrote this report for VOA Learning English. Catherine Kelly Weaver was the editor.

Do you think flying cars are a good idea? Would you like to buy a Kitty Hawk flying car? Would you ride in an Uber flying taxi?

Share your thoughts in the Comments Section below or on 51VOA.COM.


Words in This Story

commercial - adj. concerned with earning money

construction - n. the act or process of building something (such as a house or road)

drone - n. a type of small aircraft that flies without a pilot

start-up - n. a new business

rotor blade - n. a part of a machine that turns around a central point

aviation - n. the business or practice of flying airplanes, helicopters, etc.

uncongested - adj. not full or crowded with something (such as vehicles or people)

recreational - adj. done for enjoyment

deposit - n. money that you give someone when you agree to buy something (such as a house or car)

fleet - n. a group of ships or vehicles that move or work together or that are controlled or owned by one company

destination - n. a place to which a person is going or something is being sent