(TMU) – Popularized most memorably by an air-borne DeLorean in Back to the Future 2, the vision of flying cars has been a persistent science fiction trope for many decades. However, the technological challenges and complications of social implementation have largely rendered the idea a no-go.
A Japanese tech startup, the Tokyo-based company SkyDrive, now says it plans to launch the first commercial flying taxi service by 2023. The company’s CEO Tomohiro Fukuzawa goes further and even predicts that by the 2040s, there will be a trillion-dollar global market for electric vertical take-off and landing aircraft (eVTOL).
According to Rajeev Lalwani, Morgan Stanley’s aircraft analyst, this market “could likely begin as an ultra-niche add-on to existing transportation infrastructure, similar to how helicopters operate today. They could later transform into a cost-effective, time-efficient method of traveling short to medium distances, eventually taking business away from car and airline companies.”
SkyDrive is one of over 100 flying car initiatives around the world – a race that includes Boeing Co., Airbus SE and Uber Technologies Inc. – but its plan is for a small two-seat vehicle with eVTOLs propellers in all four corners of the upper half of the craft, a design which Fukuzawa believes will enhance its safety. This battery-powered SD-xXX model would have a travel range of dozens of kilometers at 100 kmh (62 mph).
While there are still many skeptics who are cynical that these cars will ever get off the ground (so to speak), Fukuzawa imagines offering a flying taxi service to big cities in Japan, starting in the Osaka Bay area and slowly branching out. By 2050, he believes Japanese citizens will be able to take an air taxi to “any destination within the capital’s 23 wards in 10 minutes.”
“The two biggest difficulties,” he said in a recent interview, “are getting it certified for commercial flights and ensuring the same safety and reliability as existing aircraft — and changing the social climate, by letting the general public know about this air mobility, and making them want to ride a flying car.”
If and when these hurdles are overcome, the air taxi (with the ability to vertically take-off and land) could revolutionize the travel industry, reducing traffic congestion in cities, assisting citizens during natural disasters, and increasing access to remote locations.
“The initial model will fly basically on autopilot, but it’s not 100 percent autonomous because a pilot would need to maneuver it in case of an emergency, for example,” Fukuzawa says.
With drones increasingly commercialized and self-driving cars poised to soon dominate the marketplace, one can imagine a drastically different cityscape in the near future that more closely approximates science fiction movies. While there are legitimate questions about the viability of Japan’s air taxi industry – much less whether that market can spread around the world – the ‘flying car’ prototype is certainly a marvelous technology to behold.
Dolphin Swims Through Louisiana Neighborhood in Aftermath of Hurricane Ida
A Louisiana family was shocked to find a dolphin swimming through their neighborhood in the aftermath of Hurricane Ida.
Amanda Huling and her family were assessing the damage to their neighborhood in Slidell, Louisiana, when they noticed the dolphin swimming through the inundated suburban landscape.
In video shot by Huling, the marine mammal’s dorsal fin can be seen emerging from the water.
“The dolphin was still there as of last night but I am in contact with an organization who is going to be rescuing it within the next few days if it is still there,” Huling told FOX 35.
Ida slammed into the coast of Louisiana this past weekend. The Category 4 hurricane ravaged the power grid of the region, plunging residents of New Orleans and upwards of 1 million homes and businesses in Louisiana and Mississippi into the dark for an indefinite period of time.
Officials have warned that the damage has been so extensive that it could take weeks to repair the power grid, reports Associated Press.
Also in Slidell, a 71-year-old man was attacked by an alligator over the weekend while he was in his flooded shed. The man went missing and is assumed dead, reports WDSU.
Internet users began growing weary last year about the steady stream of stories belonging to a “nature is healing” genre, as people stayed indoors and stories emerged about animals taking back their environs be it in the sea or in our suburbs.
However, these latest events are the surreal realities of a world in which extreme weather events are fast becoming the new normal – disrupting our lives in sometimes predictable, and occasionally shocking and surreal, ways.
Mom in LA Suburbs Fights Off Mountain Lion With Bare Hands, Rescues 5-Year-Old Son
A mother in Southern California is being hailed as a hero after rescuing her five-year-old son from an attacking mountain lion.
The little boy was playing outside his home in Calabasas, a city lying west of Los Angeles in the Santa Monica Mountains, when the large cat pounced on him.
The 65-pound (30 kg) mountain lion dragged the boy about 45 yards across the front lawn before the mother acted fast, running out and striking the creature with her bare hands and forcing it to free her son.
“The true hero of this story is his mom because she absolutely saved her son’s life,” California Department of Fish and Wildlife spokesman Captain Patrick Foy told Associated Press on Saturday.
“She ran out of the house and started punching and striking the mountain lion with her bare hands and got him off her son,” Foy added.
The boy sustained significant injuries to his head, neck and upper torso, but is now in stable condition at a hospital in Los Angeles, according to authorities.
The mountain lion was later located and killed by an officer with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, who found the big cat crouching in the bushes with its “ears back and hissing” at the officer shortly after he arrived at the property.
“Due to its behavior and proximity to the attack, the warden believed it was likely the attacking lion and to protect public safety shot and killed it on sight,” the wildlife department noted in its statement.
The mountain lion attack is the first such attack on a human in Los Angeles County since 1995, according to Fish and Wildlife.
The Santa Monica Mountains is a biodiverse region teeming with wildlife such as large raptors, mountain lions, bears, coyote, deer, lizards, and snakes. However, their numbers have rapidly faded in recent years, causing local wildlife authorities to find new ways to manage the region’s endemic species.
Video Shows Taliban Taking Joyride in Captured US Blackhawk Helicopter
The rapid fall of Kabul to the Taliban has resulted in a number of surreal sights – from footage of the Islamist group’s fighters exercising at a presidential gym to clips of combatants having a great time on bumper cars at the local fun park.
However, a new video of Taliban members seemingly testing their skills in the cockpit of a commandeered UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter shows the chilling extent to which U.S. wares have fallen into the hands of a group it spent trillions of dollars, and exhaustive resources, to stamp out.
In the new video, shared on Twitter, the front-line utility helicopter can be seen taxiing on the ground at Kandahar Airport in southeastern Afghanistan, moving along the tarmac. It is unclear who exactly was sitting in the cockpit, and the Black Hawk cannot be seen taking off or flying.
It is unlikely that the Taliban have any combatants who are sufficiently trained to fly a UH-60 Black Hawk.
The helicopter, which carries a $6 million price tag, is just a small part of the massive haul that fell into the militant group’s hands after the country’s central government seemingly evaporated on Aug. 14 amid the withdrawal of U.S. and coalition troops.
Some 200,000 firearms, 20,000 Humvees and hundreds of aircraft financed by Washington for the now-defunct Afghan Army are believed to be in the possession of the Taliban.
The firearms include M24 sniper rifles, M18 assault weapons, anti-tank missiles, automatic grenade launchers, rocket-propelled grenades and mortars.
Taliban fighters in the elite Badri 313 Brigade have been seen in propaganda images showing off in uniforms and wielding weaponry meant for the special forces units of the Afghan Army.
The U.S. is known to have purchased 42,000 light tactical vehicles, 9,000 medium tactical vehicles and over 22,000 Humvees between 2003 and 2016.
The White House remains unclear on how much weaponry has fallen into Taliban hands, with National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan admitting last week that the U.S. lacks a “clear picture of just how much missing $83 billion of military inventory” the group has.