It’s 2011, Where The Heck Is My Flying Car?

Wired Magazine lists the Top Ten Things Science Fiction Promised Us That Didn’t Happen in 2010:

10. Cheap, Clean, and Unlimited EnergyNikola Tesla’s dream of free and unlimited electricity seems even more impossible today than when he first proposed it in the early 20th century. Many of the wars on this small blue marble we call home are in large or small part over energy resources. Global climate change is intrinsically linked to the ways in which we produce energy. Whether it’s gas for your car or electricity for your house, we all spend a lot of money on energy. A limitless, non-polluting, inexpensive (or even free) energy source could completely transform humanity, taking us out of the energy dark age we live in now, and leading to a true peace on Earth and good will between all mankind. That’s my wintertime wish for the future. Do you have one?


7. AI Robot Butlers & Self-Driving Cars — I want my piña colada served to me on the veranda at the perfect temperature by a slave robot. I want to be chauffeured around the city at night in my high speed luxury electric car while it reads to me the news of the day customized to my unique interests. I want all of this and I want it all guilt free. Oh sure, I can get a Roomba to vacuum my house or a Lexus which can park itself, but that’s not really the same thing, is it?

And, most importantly:

1. Flying Cars — This is a popular one to gripe about, but I’ve got bad news for you: it ain’t ever gonna happen. It’s not that flying cars are technically impossible, but they are socially impossible. I have little doubt that if our best and brightest applied themselves to the task, we could mass-produce personal travel devices that would allow us to rise off the ground and zoom through the air just like George Jetson. But imagine a world where the millions of cars on the road are replaced by millions of flying cars, or, should I say, millions of potential flying bombs. Even if we were to create some system that automatically forces cars to avoid buildings, how long before some moron with a beef against a particular government, philosophy, or just against sanity in general hacks that system and heads towards the closest sky scraper in a flying car packed with C4 explosive? No thanks, I’ll stick to the ground.

We’ve been lied to people.

FILED UNDER: Science & Technology,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. JKB says:

    Flying cars suffer from a far more pervasive and threatening risk: teenagers, friday night. Who wants some drunken kids buzzing their house all night.

  2. James Joyner says:

    Hell, aside from terrorists and drunk teens, the more obvious problem is: MORONS. You think that idiot yapping on his cell phone in the passing lane is bad? Make him airborne.

  3. JKB says:

    An example of life with flying cars. And Mav was subject to a strict disciplinary system and lots and lots of vetting.

  4. Col. Hogan says:

    There are always millions who can think of dozens of reasons why things won’t happen. Of course, in today’s political climes innovation will continue to diminish. When freedom returns, so will innovation.

    Stupid stuff, like crime, is to be stopped as it happens, but not made into a life-altering fixation

  5. michael reynolds says:

    Col. Hogan:

    Yeah, the jackboot of oppression has all but destroyed Google, Apple and Facebook. Those poor people live like animals.

  6. michael reynolds says:

    I think I could handle a flying car. As long as my wife has the imaginary brake she pushes when I ride up on stopped traffic there shouldn’t be any problem.

  7. Brett says:

    1. Flying cars were always a dangerous idea. Imagine a world where every car crash led to both parties dying as the cars plummet to the ground.

    2. The Moon Base basically got screwed over by politics. Political interest in going to the moon just faded away slowly after Apollo 11 landed.

    3. I wouldn’t rule out Anti-Aging Pills, provided we can find out how aging works in terms of genetics. The nice thing about that is that it might also result in an actual “cure” for cancer in terms of fixing the uncontrolled replication of cells, instead of the various cancer stoppers that are underway.

    4. Same issues as the Moon, although a trip to Jupiter is definitely dangerous – you need heavy shielding lest its Van Allen belts fry your astronauts.

    9. This one’s a tragedy. Politics more or less killed SST by banning flights over land. Can you imagine how cool it would have been to be able to travel from home to anywhere in the world in 6-7 hours?

    This is why I’m hoping we develop Sub-Orbital Transit. Anywhere in the world in 1-2 hours.

  8. john personna says:

    “The future is already here – it’s just not very evenly distributed.”

    That really cuts both ways. We’ve seen “flying cars.” They’re crap. We haven’t seen AI in the sense of a computer you chat with to set goals, and so we probably wont. On the other hand, iPad equivalents will probably be in every home fairly soon.

  9. michael reynolds says:


    3-D beltway. Friday afternoon. In the rain. Come on, it would be fun!

  10. JKB says:

    Turns out there is a flying car so to speak. Actually a hovercraft/ground effect vehicle. A Kiwi built it and it is probably closer to the flying car than an airplane ever will be.