Researchers Evaluate the Role of Flying Cars in Sustainable Mobility

Electric vertical takeoff and landing aircraft, known as VTOLs or flying cars, combine the convenience of a helicopter's vertical takeoff and landing with the efficient flight of an airplane. A study published in Nature Communications on their environmental sustainability finds that they wouldn’t be suitable for short commutes. However, they could play a role in sustainable mobility for longer trips. Flying cars could be valuable in congested cities, or in places with geographical constraints, as part of a ride-share taxi service, according to the University of Michigan study authors. The U-M researchers found that for trips of 62 miles, a fully-loaded VTOL carrying a pilot and three passengers had lower greenhouse gas emissions than ground-based cars with an average vehicle occupancy of 1.54. They also found that emissions from the VTOL were 52 percent lower than gasoline vehicles, and 6 percent lower than battery-electric vehicles.