Companies are pouring millions of pounds into developing flying taxis, but is this money well spent or just a flight of fancy?
The race is on to bring the first safe and reliable flying taxis to market.
The prize is a daily commute where people are whisked from their homes to work, avoiding traffic, rail delays and waiting in the cold and bad weather for a bus or train.
But no one seems to have worked out if the business model works.
It’s yet to be seen if a company like Uber Air can deliver a flying taxi at a price that regular commuters can afford.
Weird to wonderful designs
More than 100 companies are reportedly designing personal drones that take off and land vertically like a helicopter – but using less fuel and generating far less noise.
But getting a flying taxi off the ground safely is another matter.
The machine needs to be capable of taking three or four people and their baggage on a trip of 20 to 50 miles.
Many planners are proposing to use the airspace over rivers that run through most major cities to avoid flying over built up areas to lower the risk of crashes.
The designs for flying taxis run from the weird to wonderful. Some have wings, some are circular and most have multiple engines in case of technical failure. The one thing they all have is a battery, but technology has not advanced enough to pack a powerful punch in a lightweight container and that’s what is holding development back.
Lots of questions, no solutions
Then there’s red tape.
Law makers and town planners have yet to get to grips with the rules needed to make safe but fast air corridors above heavily populated cities – and where are the flying taxis going to land and recharge?
And who is going to pilot the drones?
The list of what ifs goes on and the solutions are getting no nearer.
No one expects flying taxis to take off as a viable method of transport until the 2030s, especially as configuring a drone to deliver a small parcel seems a trip too far for most developers to take.