By: James Arikpo
“Whatever goes up surely comes down, but age climbs like a stubborn monkey and refuses to come down, never.”
While we would judge the above as true, careful study shows that not only age has this ability. It is reliable to say that a variable such as “the complexity of the human society” would fit into the slot if age is taken away. Over and again, we see the graph that plots human sophistication with time always rising up the slope and sometimes becoming so steep that one could wake up one morning and feel entirely in a different world. Would you be taken aback should a flying car land just right before you in UI, give you a 25-minute ride in the air, only to come to the consciousness that you just moved from IB to Abuja? Sounds blissful, right? That’s the gear the human species is about stepping on. These changes happen really fast, so much so that in twenty years from now, 9-year-olds might be learning dy½dx, which would be like a shallow foundation in the world of scientific knowledge.
Times when mans’ active transport trails were of footpaths and horse tracks have been long erased, and like a delve into the dream world where fantasy could be anything, they have been replaced with road tracks for the four-wheeled engine built by man.
How better could it have been when Tunde, a student at the prestigious University of Ibadan, does not need to walk all the way through to the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine from the gate? How much better could it have been when the average Nigerian could access the four wings of the nation in a couple of days? But the better was proven by man’s ability to produce the objects that could fly too. We have the planes, gliders, choppers… but to think that this species is still making projections to have flying cars is surprising!
To say the least, we know about the car industry, and so far, we can only truly associate cars on road tracks. However, car industrialists have been working hard to up the game by having moving cars off the lane. These flying cars are simply car systems that are designed in such a way that they could take to flight without being restricted to roads only. They are made of lightweight materials, and come as pods while others are made with collapsible wings. Industries like Airbus S.E., Tesla Inc., AeroMobil and several others have been making progress, notwithstanding, Japan seems a little keener about this flying car development. If all goes well, it hopes to have a direct application of SkyDrive in its cities by 2023. That is, two years from now, we would have moved into the certainty of other possibilities.
According to Forbes, the Japanese SkyDrive SD-03, manufactured by Toyota Motor Corporation, is designed to be launched as a two-sitter commercial vehicle whose speed at 40mph is capable of running for 30 minutes. A major feat it has been able to achieve is the VTOL (Vertical Take-off and Landing) ability, without needing a runaway.
WHY HAVE CARS GO IN THE AIR?
There are several reasons why at this point, it is vital that we adopt this flying car mechanism. As noted before, we live in a complex society. Even though dwellers of rural regions and outskirts of towns might not find it worthwhile, cities like Lagos, Ibadan, and other populated areas would find it a life saver. Noting that traffic jam could be a frustrating phenomenon when there is an appointment to meet in no time, what a saving grace it would be when there is a car that can fly you over to your desired location without having to go through such a dilemma. Also, flying cars will come in handy in cases that require emergency responses like the security crisis Nigeria is currently facing, where quick military intervention has been lagging and can be considered a snail-like response to a fast-snake terrorist attack.
Countries with frequent occurrences of natural disasters like earthquake, flooding, volcanic tremors and fire outbreaks which require in-time evacuation would also find it a very useful tool to employ. Before now, choppers had been a reliable means of carrying out this commission, and there has always been a limitation, considering the size of the aircraft. SkyDrive would enhance easy mobility and it is hardly hindered by landing space due to its small and compact nature. Why kill yourself with Klin detergent trying to remove an oil stain from your white shirt when you have Hypo? A measure of both works better when used at the right time.
More so, flying cars would provide short-distance routing. Imagine where you’d have had to move from Iwo Road, through Ojoo then Ajibode just because you are taking a drop to UI, eased by being lifted high enough, and you can already see UI from Iwo Road; a straight line plot, and you’ve landed at your destination. However, the times when the exact location isn’t visible, Google Map connects the missing links because it is in sync with GPS and satellites.
WHAT ARE THE POSSIBLE CONSTRAINTS OF THIS INNOVATION?
Wouldn’t it be a suicide mission lifting yourself heavenward when there could be another flying pod just directly coming your way? Or the possibility of fly-crashing into a building? Or the air getting really dense with these flying objects that there become a problem of air traffic modulation which could amount to air collision and thus having human bodies and objects falling from the sky like manna? How would there be control when there is no tangible path? Your curiosity might arouse you to ask.
Dealing with the above questions, just one solution has been considered in the design of the SkyDrive. Unlike planes and jets that would need a landing clearance from a control observer, it is duly noted that there hardly is a control tower in the case of this mobile object. However, it should be known that most of these SkyDrives are not humanly driven. There are robotic systems put in place to carry out the navigation without much indulgence from the part of the human passengers. That means accurately modified collision-avoidance systems and automated routing must be in check in these vehicles. Again, this gradually draws us to the era that would prompt us to put our lives in the hands of a robot, meanwhile, it doesn’t mean that there is a guarantee of collision-free travelling, as even the airplanes that are limited in number and really high up in the sky as compared to our road-air birds still have undesired occasions where they crash. Another problem that could be associated with is the weather conditions and its inability of being able to maintain air presence for a long period of time.
Then comes the issue of cost. Regardless of all that have been said, not many people will be able to own one of these flying cars, especially in the first years of its recognition in the market. Forget the fantasy which the article seemed to have exposed us to, it’s not going to be a flick of the finger, not even the clap of the hands to get just a piece; it will take more. It’s going to be a customised car; one’s capacity to afford it would not be about one being rich but one being wealthy. On the average, these cars could go for a whopping sum of $600, 000. That is, with the contemporary price of the naira’s worth, it could sell for N300 million.
Consequently, you might not get to see any of the SkyDrives anytime soon in the country, so chill and free your mind from ‘oppression’. While this might be good news to some who are already having a cranky feeling about flying cars, to others who are enthusiasts of tech, it presents a disadvantage due to geography, making it difficult to catch up with the present day civilisation. This leaves us a question: how far is Nigeria from civilisation?