BEFORE YOU CAN zip about in a flying car, engineers must solve a few problems. Oddly, figuring out how to make a flying car fly isn’t among them. The basics of flight were sorted out more than 100 years ago. No, the big challenge lies in making these things fly themselves so you don’t have to go through the hassle of earning a pilot’s license. Here, too, taking flight isn’t the big problem. Landing is.
“Takeoff is fairly scripted,” says Sanjiv Signh, the CEO of Near Earth Autonomy. His company makes sensors and robotic controls for aerial vehicles like drones. “But the landing site may not be ready to take a vehicle. Maybe something went wrong, and there’s already a vehicle on deck.”
A human pilot would know what to do. But a computer algorithm must be programmed.