UK / Ireland: 250 pounds = 17 stone, 12 pounds.
Rest of Sane World: 250 pounds = 113.4 Kg
America's Federal Aviation Administration has granted limited flight licenses to not one but two companies working on electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) craft, one of which could even be considered an actual flying car. The first of these FAA special airworthiness certificates, which grant limited rights to operate …
Speaking as someone in the UK, I can never grasp "Stones" and have a tenuous grasp of pounds in that I know there's about 2.2lb in a kilogram.... But then I went to school after metrification, (Not hard, the process officially started in 1896 (No, that's not a typo)) and the only imperial unit I use is the pint....
Do you measure distances in kilometres, or miles? And does your car measure it's efficiency in litres per kilometre, or miles to the gallon?
I went to school probably about the same time as you and I use a complete bastard hybrid of what works better for a particular situation. A good example is that I measure cable runs in metric, but I don't like 1cm to a meter on a scale metric architects rule because you need a magnifying glass to use the resulting plan, whereas I do quite like 1 inch to a meter on imperial architects rules, so my floor plans are done using an imperial scale rule for inches to the yard, but with me using meters instead of yards. An architect knew the scale ratio for an inch to a meter off the top of his head when using a photocopy of my office cabling plan, so i'd assume people of our age group doing stuff like this is hardly unusual. ;)
And this before we mention that almost everybody senior to you tends to work in the Imperial units they were taught back when, so unless your very junior then you pretty much need to know how to work in imperial to meaningfully communicate with the people who sign decisions off
I'm Irish so have a simpler time with speed and distances but I'm getting on in years now so don't have too many 'seniors' to deal with. Metrication has been taught in schools since 1970 in Ireland so only those born before 1964 will have been taught anything else and they had time to unlearn it in secondary.
the Model A is classified as a low-speed road vehicle which, under US federal regulations, means the Model A is limited to just 25 or 35 mph (40 to 56 kmph), rules for which vary by state.
It's not your ground speed in the Alef Model A which will get you killed. It's the speed of the other vehicle(s) whose driver(s) don't realize you're as pokey-slow as a piece of farm equipment and slam into you from behind at 45 to 55 MPH (or more, if they're speeding).
Alef told us the weight capacity in the Model A prototype is limited to just 250 pounds
So it will take me and my 3-year-old daughter into the air, but it will not take me and my S.O.
Icon for black, non-hovering flying car --->
25 to 35MPH is just fine for urban and town travel, speed limits for those areas are at that level or below anyway. So it will be a fine urban road traveler, then fly to a further destination.
It is the weight limit that is currently the limiting factor for a lot of people (not me personally, though). It might be better to consider it a single-seater, regardless of that second seat next to you.
Given the number of cars flying close to ground level already - as witnessed by numerous videos - I'm not sure I'd want to be anywhere near one that's designed to be in the air, unless and until the operators are capable of and required to have the same abilities and qualifications as a current pilot.
As half the human race appears to be unable to tie its own shoelaces without supervision, I'm not convinced that flying cars are something they should be in charge of.
You may say that now. But over time, I see that changing. It takes time to learn to fly a conventional RC aircraft, but give a kid a drone/quadcopter and a smart phone and off they go, with little to no instruction.
Yeah, yeah, I know, even toy drones crash, but the point is they are very, very easy to fly. A flying car of equivalent, probably much better, self-handling such that the "pilot" only needs to point it in the right direction will probably need little more than a car driving licence to a reasonable standard, eg a "proper" test, not the sort of tests some countries and even some US States currently have where it's barely more than pointing to the steering wheel correctly for a pass :-)
"I'm not convinced that flying cars are something they should be in charge of."
They won't be. Before this gets off the ground (ahem) they will be fully automated, much easier when there are no children to run into. A user will get into the car, enter his destination, then the car will fly there controlled by an air traffic control system. There's no way the pick-your-nose-and-eat-it crowd will be able to individually keep track of a hundred thousand cars going willy-nilly literally in all directions, 50 feet over the tallest building. If they tried, I give it 3 days max (and I'm being very generous) before someone flies into a tall building.
True, but they are little further forward than the Wright Bros. were when they started flying, or the early car makers. The pioneers of private car ownership had to plan their journeys just as carefully to have a chance of re-fuelling for the return trip too. It'll be interesting to watch and see if the advancements in duration are equivalent, bearing in mind the battery chemistry and physics.
That's 150 miles on a bright, sunny, windless, early June day with a new or nearly new freshly charged battery. Now let's try it again with a battery that's been in service for a decade on a dramatically subfreezing day in January in Canada or Alaska with a refreshing North wind blowing maybe 30 or 40 knots.
Your Mileage May Vary.
If you wanted to completely obliterate a nation with a gift, that gift would be flying cars for average people. Overhead high voltage transmission lines would be ripped to pieces, houses and buildings crushed and burned, insurance companies bankrupted, and commercial airlines destroyed by collision.
I still wouldn't refuse a flying car given to me.
I like your idea and I am all for it! Let's make this real!
However, in the civilised world you are bound to taking of and landing on airfields (and some limited number of actual fields / meadows that are certified for powered take off), with the exception of gliders, which are permitted to land anywhere they do not wreak havoc (sometimes you run out of thermals... if you get around your FAI triangle with ample time to spare it was too small, so you live with the risk). Another exception are military helicopters, if you are cleared for it and there is a good reason and the paperwork has been countersigned by... whoever (don't know the details). For the (civilian) flying car this means I effectively have to drive to an airfield, take off there, land at an airfield and drive to my destination. Unless you live in rural North America, where you can have an airstrip of some sorts behind your farm building (more a glorified field) with your plane registered to it (which is great, and I envy you, and wish you lots of fun, fly safely!). Still then your neighbour dropping by might require - in principle - more paperwork So: nah.
You would also need to hold a pilot license of some sort, which is not too difficult, we are talking about the lightweigth planes here. I hesitate to use the term "ultralights", I don't like it, not after I learned about the Fascination some decades ago - which is a small single engine plane which also exists in an "ultralight" version (slightly greater wingspan, fixed landing gear, and I think different flap config, and lower maximum takeoff weight, but pretty close to the "bigger" sister).
I also guess it is vapourware: "If four years of flying without any public demonstration, a lack of details, and question-avoiding..." I don't think it has actually flown at any real height... (yeah, likely below 1000 ft above ground).
"Here's one of the trippiest parts of the Alef Model A: its cockpit, which is able to hold up to two people, is on a double-axis gimbal that the entirety of the car body rotates around during flight."
This will just make you airsick when flying around turns (ok, tighter turns)... a real "Kotzschleuder" (vomit comet, would be the rough equivalent).
Let's take all the problems with individual traffic,...
- Giant waste of space for highways and parking lots
- Giant waste of public resources for maintaining this infrastructure
- Giant waste of energy
- Giant production costs
- Destroying the quality of life in urban landscapes
- Environmental impact at every step, from production, energy requirements to literally bulldozing the environment to build more roads and parking lots
- Lock in mechanisms preventing any change for the better and killing of public infrastructure problems due to resource constraints
- Destroying sane city planning because everything has to be build around the fact that we have to store all these bulky metal monstrosities
- (btw. this isn't even an exhaustive list)
- God knows how many killed or crippled in accidents every year
- Safety being completely reliant on laymen remembering what they were thought in a few weeks time decades ago and being alert and competent behind the wheel at all times
...and do the same thing all over again, but this time the cars are flying through the air! Yes, that seems like a great way to handle societies transportation needs. No need for these "trains" or other strange devices that safely and speedily transport thousands of people and giant loads of goods for a fraction of the cost, land and energy requirement. No, let's build more cars, and also flying cars! That'll work out great.
Ahhh yes, Public Transport: Requires you to listen to people shouting at their phone. Requires you to listen to other peoples music. Requires you to smell other peoples body stink/perfume. Requires you to stand for extended periods of time surrounded by all the above because there are never enough seats. Have to sit in seats designed to hold an anorexic 12 year old. Often takes longer and requires multiple changes of vehicle interspersed with long walks through crowded areas. Often doesn't go anywhere near where you need to go.
You have missed the more obvious solutions to the problem of the car. 1- Stop reproducing: Less people = less cars. 2- Encourage WFH for those who can. 3- Distribute businesses. Why does every company have to have an office in a city centre? 4- Safe single person transport. Car sharing helps but has many of the problems of Public Transport.
Over my working life I have commuted by public transport for many years, have commuted by car for many years, and commuted by motorcycle for many years. Motorcycle is by far the quickest/most convenient and is less stressful than the car, but the personal risk is VERY high, mostly because of incompetent/selfish people. Cars are slow, stressful (traffic + braindeads) but at least you have some space. Public transport is stressful, exhausting, unpleasant, and uncomfortable bordering on painful, but does have the advantage of forcing you to exercise and of lower energy use as a society. BY FAR the best option for me is NOT to commute at all.
The thing about problems with public transport is, that none of them are intrinsic. Not a single one.
When do people have to stand packed close in public transports? When their frequency and capacity is too low. When are there not enough seats? Same answer. Public transports don't suck because they instrinsically suck, they suck when politics decides to starve them of the resources necessary to make them work well.
And why is that happening? Because we waste all those resources on roads, parking lots and godamn car-centric infrastructure.
Oh, and btw. I doubt car rides, especially when done daily, are much better than packed public transports. Spending an hour and a half every day, locked in a loud metal box, surrounded by this:
...no thank you.
> BY FAR the best option for me is NOT to commute at all.
I fully agree, but for many people that isn't an option. A retail worker, factory worker, clerk in a public office, etc. cannot work from home. Neither can a barber, hairdresser, most craftsmen. And finally, people have to get around to school, doctors, businesses, recreational activities. Goods and materials also need to be transported.
"The thing about problems with public transport is, that none of them are intrinsic. Not a single one."
That's a bit utopian I think. In fact there are several intrinsic problems with public transit. It's rather slow at best. It's not well suited to bulky loads. And it works poorly in suburban areas and worse in rural areas.
For example, Tokyo has a rail line -- The Yamanote Sen -- that connects all the districts on the periphery of the city. There's a train every 4 minutes (2 at rush hour). Everyone uses it. It carries about 4 million passengers a day. A pretty good answer I think to "How do I get to ..." But its average speed is about 35kph. Faster than walking. But hardly speedy. It takes about half an hour to get to the other side of town on the Yamanote. And you still probably need to walk at a bit at both ends of your ride or maybe wait for a train if you're headed out of Tokyo proper.
Then there's things like grocery shopping. Where I live now, my nearest supermarket is about 3 km away. There's actually a bus occasionally that stops there a few times a day. And there are bus stops. Several. But they are all about a km from my house. Exactly how am I going to get 30 or 40 kg of groceries home from the store? As a one time thing, I could handle that. As a weekly or biweekly thing, I'm pretty sure I'd come to hate it in very little time at all. And I live in the burbs not the boonies.
Longer term, while I agree that mass transit is often the best answer to getting around big cities, I'm not so sure about the long term future of big cities. I don't think most people are terribly fond of megacities. Given the choice, many (most?) folks seem prefer places with a bit more room, a bit fewer annoyances, and some plants. And I think with the slow rise of digital communications and automated manufacturing, I see fewer and fewer reasons for folks to cluster together in endless rows of apartment blocks. I think we may well see the big cities of the world starting to fade away over the course of the next century.
my nearest supermarket is about 3 km away [...] Exactly how am I going to get 30 or 40 kg of groceries
by bicycle. My supermarket is 7km away and I go shopping with a bicycle. The secret is to have 2 tough shopping bags on each side of the handlebar, and to equally balance the weight between them. Doesn't beat a flying car though.
Big cities are fading away. You know the claim that NYC is flooding because of global warming? Turns out the city is actually sinking into the ground under its own weight. They still claim the melting ice is the main reason, but the city sinking 2mm a year is a meter every 50 years.
> It's rather slow at best.
Compared to an inner city traffic jam, even a slow bus or tram is fast. And subways blow everything else out of the water.
> Then there's things like grocery shopping. Where I live now, my nearest supermarket is about 3 km away.
> And there are bus stops. Several. But they are all about a km from my house.
Then that would be a great example for why better city planning is required. Where I live, the next supermarket is 7 minutes away, on foot, at a leisurly walking pace. The next bus stop is less than 100 meters from my house. The next subway stop that takes me to any part of the city is 3 bus stations away. And there is a bus every 10 minutes on weekdays, and every 20 on the weekend.
So yes, it is possible to have "15min cities" that support living well without a car. And believe me, my home town is far from perfect in that regard.
Again, not a problem intrinsic to public transport. Cities have been planned for ... well over 70 years ... under the premise that everyone should have a car. Naturally, that makes alternative systems suck. The problem with that approach, is that is also doesn't make cars suck any less, or make their problems go away...it just makes car manufacturers and oil companies very happy.
I am not saying that we can just ditch cars and be done with it. There is almost a century of mistakes in car-centric city planning and politics that have to be fixed, for car-less cities to work well for everyone. And we also cannot completely ditch individual transport. Transporting goods to consumers (sometimes) and shops (always) requires it. Emergency, medical and care services require it. That's fine, we can still have roads, and there don't need to be zero cars. But we don't need it as the default. We don't need 4-lane highways through our living centers, we don't need acres upon acres of space wasted as parking lots, we don't need zones that are effectively only reachable via cars, we don't need cars as the default mode for mass transit. That simply isn't sustainable.
> And I think with the slow rise of digital communications and automated manufacturing, I see fewer and fewer reasons for folks to cluster together in endless rows of apartment blocks. I think we may well see the big cities of the world starting to fade away over the course of the next century.
I don't think so. Everyone living in a house in the green hills, far away from any urban centers, works really well ... as a desktop wallpaper. How would that be sustained? Where and how would we build all the infrastructure required...water, heat, electricity, fiber optics? How would emergency services work in such a landscape? How would labor commute work (not everyone can work from home)?
There is a reason why humanity has always clustered in settlements. And technology has always ever accelerated that, it never diminished it.
"And why is that happening? Because we waste all those resources on roads, parking lots and godamn car-centric infrastructure."
It seems to be all stick and no carrot. Clean Air/Congestion zones in some UK cities. Fines for the city Council if they don't introduce them and "clean" the air. When they do introduce them, they get hooked on the income it generates from "fining" people and business who don't/won't/can't switch to EV or hybrids and they "promise" the money from the fines will, eventually, some day, be used to "improve" public transport. The obvious solution to most people would be to invest in the public transport first, look on it as a loan that will be paid back from the "fines" that come later or, better yet, investing in and encouraging people on to public transport first results in the cleaner air they want.
That latter is how the publicity around the new fleet of trains for our local light rail system is being put over. The reality is that the 40 year old rolling stock, with an expected lifespan of 20 years, is desperately in need of replacement anyway. I mean, FFS, the *prototype* trains, two of them, used for training the drivers and were never even supposed to go into service, are still running the daily commute 40 years later! And the new modern trains are all sideways bench seats, so far fewer seats and lots more space to cram in standing passengers to make the journey even more fun. Admittedly, at peak times on the busiest parts, trains run about every 6 minutes, you can't really cram more trains into that route and the city centre stations are underground so you you can't easily build longer platforms either. The biggest issue is probably when the system was built, public transport was publicly owned and all meshed together with buses feeding the trains. With separate privately owned bus companies competing with each other and the light rail network, it's never going to be great.
Pilot's license needs to not be an issue - fully certified self-flying has to be implemented. That includes being able to VISUALLY see and avoid other air traffic - not detect their transponder, because not all legal air traffic carries one (I didn't carry one when I flew sixty miles out of Derbyshire to south of Grantham, for instance). If they're not self-flying, they're just a cheap, slightly more convenient alternative to a Piper Cub or whatever.
In the long run, I think you're correct. If flying cars were to be ubiquitous, they'd have to be computer controlled. And note that today we can't even properly control vehicles in two dimensions, let alone three. I can visualize them someday replacing ferries in some places. And shuttling folks from airports to downtown. And a few other things like that. But they'll need to have a lot more load carrying capacity. And they'll need to be pretty good at handling sudden weather changes. And maintenance will be an issue. Ignoring that strange noise the engine sometimes makes is sort of OK on the highway. If it suddenly stops making any noise at all, you can probably coast over to the side of the road and call a tow truck. Or you can abandon the blasted thing and hitch a ride. Probably. It's likely to be more of a problem if the engine quits at 2000 feet while traversing a large body of water.
"And note that today we can't even properly control vehicles in two dimensions, let alone three."
I suspect computer controlled flying cars in strictly geo-fenced "airways" will be a LOT easier than cars on the public roads where most cars are currently manually controlled. Those geo-fenced airways will ONLY have computer controlled flying cars in them and no other obstructions. Whether it will be economic to have that sort of restricted airspace and infrastructure is another matter. I doubt there will ever be the free-for-all the ICE cars have been given through most of their history. Safety is far higher up the agenda these days and flying cars are going to have to be SAFE from day 1. Which means take up will be slow along with long term design and real world experience and the required infrastructure.
Tom Cruise will fit inside, with room for the nuclear bioweaponised list of enemy agents in the set next to him. He already has experience with a gimballed cockpit from "Oblivion".
The whole thing is just an elaborate action movie teaser.
"it received a Special Airworthiness Certification from the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration, marking the first time a vehicle of this nature has received legal approval to fly"
Sorry, but that is specious garbage. A common use of Special Airworthiness Certification is to authorise an experimental prototype for flight testing, along the lines of; "Really? This? thing? OK bud, we'll look it over for obvious deathraps, but keep it away from sane people, and whether it actually works is your business." Every crackpot aircraft and flying car that ever killed its pilot was issued with one of these first - and yes, there have been real, if seriously crap, flying cars before.
So I fear that Alerf's marketing droids may have taken a little too much angel dust. If not them, then somebody sure has.
All we have really learned from the story is that Alef claim to have ben secretly flying prototypes for years. Most likely those were just small models. If they were the real thing, I do hope they didn't break the law while they were doing so.
“I’d like to be remembered as an innovator. I think it was General MacArthur who said, ‘You’re remembered for the rules you break.’ And I’ve broken some rules to make this. I think I’ve broken them with logic and good engineering behind me. It’s picking the rules that you break that are the ones that will add value to others and add value to society, and that really to me is about innovation.” -- Stockton Rush
[Alef said in its press materials that it has been operating full-sized prototypes since 2019, but it hasn't released any videos of its test craft in operation nor its prototype Model A – everything included in its available media is simulated. When we asked Alef if it had any videos of the actual craft in motion, the spinners demurred, telling us its FAA certificate was the first step in getting to public tests.
"Now we can record a publicly available video of full-size prototypes driving and flying. Please stay tuned for our upcoming press release with video in upcoming months," Alef's media team told The Register]
So I heard you want to be scammed today...
"If four years of flying without any public demonstration, a lack of details, and question-avoiding hasn't put you off..."
I'd like to direct your attention to a video that documents some of the shenanigans that happened when the the first aircraft were being developed: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4KH3Qou2omY
(it's a 1.5h talk so you will want to settle in for the ride)
I'm seeing some similarities...