If a dozen companies big and small are to be believed, flying cars are just a few years away. Uber has already aired slickly produced videos previewing UberAir taxis, which will whisk passengers away from rooftop stops across town or to their weekend home in a pricey suburb, skipping miles of traffic jams. Uber’s concept frays a bit if you think about the hassle of it all — it’s not door-to-door service — but this isn’t stopping developers who feel like they’re in a race to bring the first flying cars to market even if they’re quite distant in terms of technology and versatility from the flying cars seen in “The Fifth Element” or “Blade Runner.” The latest entrant into the race is the BlackFly, the product of nine years of work by a Silicon Valley company called Opener that promises to make personal aviation easy and cheap. And like many others, it’s electric.
Pininfarina is back with a glimpse of the future.
The U.S. Commerce Department has asked automakers to reveal some of their most closely held secrets as part of its investigation of whether tariffs on imported cars and components are needed to safeguard national security. A 34-page questionnaire from the department’s Bureau of Industry and Security was sent to several automakers this month, seeking sensitive details about company finances, factories, supply chains and other topics. “The breadth and depth of this request is invasive, requiring massive amounts of proprietary and confidential business data from global operations — all under the pretense of national security,” said Gloria Bergquist, spokeswoman for the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, which represents several carmakers who received the survey.
Top air-quality regulators at the state Capitol may be on a collision course with local power players when it comes to how frequently Californians should drive their cars in the state’s internationally lauded fight against climate change. Many regional lawmakers and other officials have started pushing back on the notion that commuters need to limit their daily driving — which overwhelmingly consists of people cruising to work alone in their cars and trucks. As the California Air Resources Board tightens its standards for greenhouse-gas emissions from regional transportation sectors, many local authorities have started arguing that adoption of electric vehicles will make it unnecessary to reign in so-called vehicle miles traveled, or VMT.
Prager is a mechanical engineer for Wing, the drone-delivery effort that, along with internet-beaming balloon scheme Loon, just “graduated” from X and is now a stand-alone company under the Alphabet umbrella. The engineers at Wing, which took shape in 2012, have had to deal with lot of complexities. They designed an H-shaped drone that has a range of 6 miles, can carry a 3-pound package, and tops out at 80 mph. They developed a traffic-management system that could keep the skies safe as they get more crowded with little flyers. And they spent a whole lot of time making a new kind of hook.