Science and Tech Editor


With exciting developments, it’s worth considering the fantastical flying machines that we may start to use in the future.

“According to all known laws of aviation, there is no way that a bee should be able to fly”, claims The Bee Movie. Bees do not break any laws of aviation in reality, but the quote makes one question the possibilities of flying. In 200 years, humans have gone from being solely on ground, to small flights, to huge commercial aircraft, and into space. Our perception of what is possible in the sky has changed dramatically.

As we approach Halloween, we may even begin to consider the fantastical modes of transport suggested by supernatural stories. Flying cars, magic carpets, and broomsticks: they all seem ridiculous, but with science developing at such a rapid rate, they may become a reality somewhat soon. One day you may be able to turn up to someone’s balcony in a flying carriage to take them to a fast-food restaurant, like the Fairy Godmother in Shrek.

After some research, it seems that some forms of flying transportation are more likely to come to fruition than others. We may not be recreating Quidditch in Celtic Park, but we could possibly be cruising down Byres Road on our hoverboards. The research is seemingly expanding into areas which will improve society as a whole, rather than what seems fun… although I could make a great argument about why flying carpets would benefit us all. There are many exciting developments in flying transport, but a lot of possibilities may disappoint you…

Broomsticks

Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem likely we will be playing out our Quidditch dreams any time soon. There seem to be no current developments in creating a functional flying broomstick. I imagine that the broomstick would never be able to hold up a human’s weight and would have major safety issues. In reality, most people would end up hanging upside down and falling off it, which would only create a terrifying reality of It's Raining Men. This dream may have to remain in the storybooks.

Hoverboards

Many of us have detailed dreams of riding hoverboards like those in Back to the Future II. The film may have predicted some things right, as by 2015 (the year in which the film was set), there were some hoverboards which had been released. The Hendo Hover was first released in 2013 and uses disk-shaped magnetic hover engines on the bottom of the board to levitate. You can only ride it above special plates, but it does allow you to hover above the ground!

Another company, Omni, holds the record for the longest flight on a hoverboard. The Hendo Hover only allows users to hover slightly in the air and on a special surface, whereas Omni can take the user to the sky with propellers. It looks more like a drone than a skateboard, but it seems to be more successful in the air than its competitors. If you want to pretend you’re Marty McFly this Halloween, you may be able to find a hoverboard to go with your costume.

Flying carpets

The flying carpets shown in Aladdin always excited me as a child - a form of transportation that could be your friend, sign me up! While I know now that it’s a bit strange to get excited by that, I was still intrigued to see what they used in the live adaptation of Aladdin. Unfortunately, the flying carpet was not a real flying carpet, but in fact, a CGI created magic carpet. It seems that, like the broomstick, there is a lack of interest in developing a flying carpet. Scientists are most definitely researching the wrong things, because I know that flying carpets would be a worthwhile investment.

Flying cars

Flying cars are likely to be the next big development in transportation. In August 2020, a Japanese company, SkyDrive, confirmed that they had successfully tested their “flying car”. The aircraft completed a four-minute flight time and lifted three metres above the ground. The car was manned by a pilot during the flight, meaning that if it were to become a commercial vehicle, we would all have to learn to fly ourselves.

SkyDrive is not the only company to be developing flying cars: Boeing, Airbus, Toyota, and Porsche have all invested in projects to develop similar vehicles. Hyundai and Uber have even begun a collaboration to produce flying taxis. While there seem to be many investments in flying cars, this prospect scares me the most. Would the cars fill the sky and block sunlight? If the cars were to crash, what impact would it have on the world below? Anything created would have to go through extensive testing in the ordinary world, but it seems too dangerous to me.

While they seem exciting, I don’t see a need for hoverboards and flying cars. They are likely to be too dangerous and unlikely to make our lives easier. Unless we develop spacecraft that can travel faster than the speed of light, I believe that transportation developments should focus on being more efficient and renewable, or simply fun! Commercial broomsticks could be used for fun in the park, or to quickly fly down the road. It’s unlikely to harm anybody if you’re trained correctly, and if it’s restricted to short distances, it wouldn’t cause too many issues if it breaks down. What could go wrong?

In our lifetimes, it seems like transportation will change dramatically, but not in the way that we would all hope. While hoverboards and flying cars seem fun, I would much rather have the chance to whizz around on a Nimbus 2000 than just hop in my flying Uber. Regardless, we can’t ignore the possibilities of transportation from our stories being brought to life. One day, we may have a flying horse and carriage to take us to McDonald's… we mustn’t restrict our dreams.


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