Flying cars coming closer to reality

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Since long before "The Jetsons" people have dreamed about soaring over traffic jams in flying cars.

With today's technological advancement, that science fiction may soon become a reality.

Companies all over the world are working on versions of flying cars.

Chinese company Ehang is working on scaling up its drones to safely transport people.

Massachusetts-based Terrafugia (Latin for "Escape the Earth") is already taking preorders for a plane that folds up into a street-legal car.

While most companies are using batteries and electric motors, Israeli firm Urban Aeronautics is developing a small gas-powered drone using helicopter engines.

Passenger plane maker Airbus has a Silicon Valley subsidiary called A3 that later this year plans to test an aircraft called Vahana. Airbus envisions the vehicle as an autonomous air taxi that could be summoned via app.

MIT aeronautics professor John Hansman, who chairs the FAA's engineering research advisory committee, said building and designing flying cars is not a big engineering challenge these days.

"There's no question we can build a vehicle. I can build a vehicle tomorrow that will carry two people or three people for a half an hour," he said.

Instead, the most difficult challenge, he said, is dealing with issues on the ground, such as air-traffic control, safe landing areas and noise pollution.

"I actually think it's going to be the ground infrastructure that allows the vehicles to operate in the most useful places," Hansman said. "Then it's going to be important."
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