NASA has begun testing flying taxis as part of a long-running campaign to bring flying vehicles to the United States in a move that could bring humans closer to the Jetsons.
The American space agency – whose previous feats include space burritos and the moon landings – has teamed up with Californian flying car company Joby to begin the trials.
Joby’s prototype air taxi has a range of 150 miles and can travel at up to 200mph.
It seats four passengers and is fully electric, meaning it has zero carbon emissions.
Most importantly, it can take off and land vertically – which means it can land in cities and towns without the need for a runway.
The trials are designed to assess the “how the vehicle moves, how the vehicle sounds, and how the vehicle communicates with controllers”.
The NASA team is going to pay particular attention to how much sound pollution the flying cars generate, presumably in anticipation of the number of noise complaints to local councils in about ten years time.
Joby is the first company to conduct test flights with NASA, which says it is trying to build public ‘confidence’ in the safety of flying cars.
The test flights are part of NASA’s Advanced Air Mobility (AAM) national campaign, which essentially exists to make flying cars a reality.
NASA says its ultimate mission is to create a new mode of transportation which can get passengers and cargo from A to B via the skies.
When fully integrated into the national airspace, AAM will provide an efficient and affordable system for passenger and cargo transportation, and other applications in the public interest.
NASA says it hopes to “fully integrate” flying vehicles into America’s national travel system.
The agency says it wants to provide “an efficient and affordable system for passenger and cargo transportation”, as well as “package delivery drones, air taxis, and medical transport vehicles.”
Between Elon Musk’s self-driving cars and these flying taxis, it seems cyclists will soon have their work cut out for them.