Q&A With Dr. Michio Kaku: Where Are Our Flying Cars?
After some 80 years of empty promises, faulty predictions, countless science fiction films and comic books, and a rather famous animated TV series from the 1960s, Terrafugia may be the first company to develop and produce an actual flying car. Never mind that it costs $279,000 for now—the point is that it exists, and that so far, it seems to actually work.
That alone is cause for celebration. Plus, the design isn’t even all that radical: The Terrafugia Transition is a simple two-seater with folding wings. It runs on regular unleaded, and can fly in the air or drive on a highway. Terrafugia says the first production models will be ready for customer delivery in about a year. But would a flying car ever really be practical? More importantly, when can we all buy one?
To get some expert opinion and much-needed perspective here at PCMag, we asked Dr. Michio Kaku, esteemed theoretical physicist and best-selling author of Physics of the Future: How Science Will Shape Human Destiny and Our Daily Lives by the Year 2100, for his take on Terrafugia and flying cars in general. Here’s what he had to say.
PCMag: For those who haven’t yet read your book, why aren’t there flying cars on a mass scale yet?
Kaku: I often get asked, “Where’s my flying car? You guys promised me a flying car years ago.” Actually, it was cartoonists who promised you the flying car, not scientists. Scientists have known for decades that a flying car would be extremely expensive. It would consume vast amounts of fuel, just to stay in one spot, and would be beyond the means of any middle class family. The fundamental problem is cost, and has been for decades.
Could the Terrafugia Transition change that? Obviously not at $279,000, but just considering the design.
The Terrafugia Transition is a step in the right direction, but there is a long ways to go. For my Discovery Channel series 2057 that I hosted, we actually filmed a flying car. It looked quite futuristic and seemed to come from a science fiction movie. But again, it was mainly an expensive toy for millionaires. Although this new car has many nice features, it is a massive gas guzzler.