How will traffic and safety be handled whenever flying cars become a reality?

Every futuristic TV show or movie, you see them all just darting around with no order, no regard to safety, anything, just get in and floor it, any height, any speed.

Should these ever exist and become the norm, obviously governments would want to address safety, but how could that be achieved above ground? Does any technology exist currently that could establish lanes, traffic signs, etc. in midair? How could this work exactly, other than the mess we see depicted in current TV and film?

Forgot to add, do there exist any movies or TV shows that depict an orderly, planned system of this type of air travel, and how do they depict that being achieved?

The Jetsons –

Really, for all the reasons that flying cars and rocket backpacks aren’t already a thing are pretty much the reasons they aren’t going to be a thing.

When the time comes, they will regulate them in the same way as all the flying pigs.

I seem to recall flying cars in the Fifth Element, and I believe different directions flew at different altitudes, with the various streams of cars all going in the same direction and the same altitude. Star Wars did something similar, including with floating signage (which may have been ads). In Back to the Future 2, the cars not only lined up in the air with floating signs, they ended up backed up in traffic.

If you’re going to have flying cars in the real world they’re pretty much going to have to be completely computer controlled for reasons of coordination and safety - which really means, because the consequences of a crash are way worse so we can’t let some yahoo go drunk flying into traffic.

Three very common movies, none of which I have seen! In any of them, does it perhaps show the method of delineation for the traffic lanes? That would be I think one of the biggest hurdles, but perhaps some sort of lighting or hologram could work?

By the time we have affordable flying cars, self driving vehicles will have reached maturity and there won’t be a pilot.

I’m not sure how that’ll affect things like ‘lanes’. Maybe we won’t have lanes. Or maybe we’ll have a bunch of lanes that are separated by 100 feet vertically (so maybe 20 vertical lanes).

But we won’t need stop signs or traffic signals since the robots will all be connected and doing the driving.

In fifth element and Star Wars (EpII) there’s seemingly nothing at all to tell the cars where to fly. In Back to the Future 2 there are rows of what looks like hovering T/Y-shaped light poles (a pole with a horizontal lights extending on each side of its top) which the cars fly alongside, directing them where to go. (There’s a separate set of them curving out and down to indicate the ‘exit’.) It may be worth noting that the “road” in BttF seems reminiscent of a freeway where in the other two we appear to be seeing city streets.

And in all three the cars are at least mostly manually controlled. (All the better for crazy flying car chases, naturally.)

My WAG is that IF we ever get to the point where flying cars are a thing that they will be mainly in autonomous mode, so the driver won’t be driving. This is the model we see emerging for the flying taxi services several companies are looking into. The drones, basically, will be completely automated. If it’s ever more than a stunt by a few companies having a few flights in a city I think that the government will essentially mandate an integrated flight control system that monitors and regulates all flying traffic. It’s not more difficult than having autonomous cars, which I see happening in the next few decades. I don’t see it as an insurmountable issue, as I think around the time we have the battery capabilities to make flying cars possible we will already have most people used to their cars being fully autonomous, so this will be a logical extension.

I doubt this will happen in my own lifetime, though you never know…AI research as well as various processing research is at a fever pitch, 5G networks will be transformative, and companies like Tesla have literally billions of miles driven worth of data…and the more data you have, assuming you can process it and develop a learning AI to optimize it using several million computer tries to get it right, the better it will be. If we are where we are today where will we be in 10 years? In 50? It’s impossible to even say. Flying cars might be the least of it. Plus, it will finally shut up all the ‘where are the flying cars we were promised???’ type memes. :stuck_out_tongue:

Flying cars are entirely practical in simulated worlds - e.g., Second Life - they just pass through each other without incident.

Of course, Star Trek style transportation is also possible, so why waste time flying?

Either way, the easiest way to deal with the consequences of physics is to change physics to our needs, rather than allow our needs to go unanswered by our physics. The great odds are that the future is almost entirely virtual and that the technology we have targeting the physical universe languishes as being overly fussy to work in.

This is where I chime in and point out that there already exists some precedent in the world of aircraft which has traffic moving in different directions at different altitudes, right-of-way rules, speed limits, and so forth which, although greatly aided by air traffic control also exist independently of tower guidance.

Flying cars would probably adopt much if not all of that, with perhaps additional rules/regulations as needed.

Elves and Faeries will be the traffic cops when flying cars become a reality.

As a pilot, I’d say current the current ATC system (even the “next-gen” stuff that’s coming) wouldn’t work for a world in which everybody has a flying car. Both for reasons of volume and training.

What I’ve been wondering lately is, suppose we had cars that flew only a maximum of a foot or two off the ground? Never mind the physics, it doesn’t matter if they’re ground effect vehicles, souped up drones with altitude governors or large versions of Marty McFly’s hoverboard. Let’s just say they fly somehow, but only very low. Maybe then we could integrate them into the current road traffic system, but we wouldn’t have to pave the roads. They could be grass or gravel, or whatever. We might have to raise the bridges and traffic lights a few feet. What else?

I doubt I’m the first person to think of this - can anyone extrapolate from my scenario or summarize somebody who has?

I don’t think that we can not mind the physics–a flying vehicle is going to turn and accelerate/decelerate differently than a wheeled vehicle. So unless someone comes up with some sort of SF magic (perhaps the same magic that makes X-Wings move like airplanes) they wouldn’t be able to use the existing road traffic system. (As a pilot, I’m sure you can recount many times when you have had an obstacle in front of your plane and had to slam your foot on the breaks…)

Ooh, perfect - let’s do that! :smiley:

There will never be flying cars - vehicles that can drive down a street and then fly you to a distant destination - until we have anti-gravity. And we’ll never have anti-gravity.

We may have some forms of direct individual autonomous flight vehicles, but they’ll never run on a road. Even so, they won’t exist in the kind of numbers that will need a dedicated lane in the air, a la The Jetsons. Fuel costs alone will make that prohibitive.

Take a look at flying car history for reasons why no such vehicles are efficient. It just so happens that I have a site called Flying Cars and Food Pills that will make looking up the history easy.

Actually I suspect they’d still be paved for a few reasons. One would be maintenance- a concrete or asphalt street requires little maintenance, unlike a grassed-over street. Second, there are whatever aspects of machine recognition of the roadway that would be necessary. Third, in case of some kind of power failure/accident, a smooth, graded and paved road might be better to try to land on instead of a soft and/or indifferently maintained gravel or dirt path.

so no cars sort of powered like airplanes that fly high in the sky?

My thought exactly. While I don’t think flying cars will ever be a popular mode of transportation, if they ever do become so, it will be many years anon still, and, by then, everything will have been automated.

I don’t think there will ever be flying cars in the sense of a dual use vehicle that can drive for hundreds of miles or fly for hundreds of miles equally easily. I do think there will be (or could be) something like ‘cars’ that are, basically, autonomous drones that could fly people around a city or maybe even in the 100 mile range at some point available via something like Uber to pick you up at certain locations or maybe even your house and fly you to a specific destination. THAT, to me, is feasible, or at least could be in a decade or 2 (or 3 or 5 :p). Just like I expect fully autonomous cars at some point in that time frame.