Self-driving cars aren't on roads yet, but does that mean we can't talk about flying cars? Although flying cars have long been in popular culture (think The Jetsons), we’ve yet to see one acting hit the … air.
However, the flying car scene is slowly making progress, with companies such as Airbus, Larry Page’s Zee Aero and Terrafugia emerging. But what do consumers actually think about flying cars?
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In a recent survey conducted by the University of Michigan, researchers Michael Sivak and Brandon Schoettle sought to understand public opinions about flying cars, taking into account the major benefits, concerns, preferred source of energy, desireable minimum range, required training, seating capacity, affordability and overall interest.
Shockingly, of all 508 survey respondents, many people were not familiar with the concept of flying cars before taking the survey. In fact, only 64.8 percent said they knew about the idea. However, after learning about the topic, most respondents said they believed that flying cars would provide a major benefit, with three-quarters saying the greatest boon would be shorter travel times.
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Of course, people are concerned about safety. Overall, 62.8 percent claimed to be very concerned. Of those highly concerned, the number of respondents in the group increased with age. In terms of safety, the majority of respondents (79.4 percent) think that having a parachute on a flying vehicle is extremely important or very important.
In addition, with growing concerns for the environment today, it’s no surprise that three-fifths of those surveyed prefer flying cars to be electric powered, rather than gas or diesel. This preference increased with younger respondents.
When it comes to actually getting behind the wheel, it looks like flying car companies will have to offer condensed training courses to attract customers. Half of respondents said they would be definitely interested in attending training for operating a flying car if it’s only 20 hours. If the training is 40, 50 or 60 people would not feel so inclined. However, training may not be much of a concern if most of these flying cars are autonomous: 40.9 percent said they are very interested in riding in an autonomous flying car.
Related: Are Self-Driving Cars Finally Ready for Consumers? What Entrepreneurs Need to Know.
Other components to help attract people to the concept of flying cars is design, operation and price. Most surveyed, 61.8 percent, preferred a flying car to seat at least three to four people. In terms of how the car operates, a whopping 83.1 percent said they prefer a vertical take-off and landing method (similar to that of a helicopter), rather than a straight, flat strip like an airplane. And if the price point is between $100,000 to $200,000, people’s interest may increase as a quarter of respondents said this is definitely affordable.
Overall, the general consensus of those surveyed had mostly positive feelings about flying cars. Almost half, 44.7, said they feel very or somewhat positive about flying cars, while a quarter remain neutral.