Once you see Blade Runner 2049, the thought may cross your mind that flying cars (or “hovercars” as Phillip K. Dick wrote in his novel, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep) could only exist in the distant future.
On September 25, Dubai staged a test flight of the Volocopter, a two-seat drone with 18 propellers developed by a German drone firm. Dubai’s Crown Prince Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed even attended the test flight.
The United Arab Emirates city has long sought to become a high-tech hub of modern innovation by enticing companies through the elimination of sales and income tax and investing in cutting-edge technology such as holograms and robot police.
Right now, the Volocopter is a novelty, flying without remote control guidance for 30 minutes (with backup batteries and rotors as well as parachutes). Eventually, the technology will become practical, opening a Pandora’s box of questions.
What kind of effect will flying vehicles have on society? Will access to advanced transportation technology be exclusive, further dividing the social stratums? Drones have already transformed warfare and drug trafficking. What will happen when people can be transported?