back to article Flying taxis? That'll be AFTER you've launched light sabres and anti-gravity skateboards

There is supposed to be an old Afghan proverb that goes: "When God wants to punish a nation, he makes them invade Afghanistan." A lesser-known variant of this epigram states: "When God wants to punish a business in the transport industry, he makes them unveil a flying taxi." And thus it came to pass at CES this week that the …

  1. Rinse

    *Lightsaber

    1. Jedit Silver badge
      Coat

      "Lightsaber"

      When 900 years old the USA reaches, then can you tell us how words are spelled.

      (The one with the Force in the pocket, mine is.)

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: "Lightsaber"

        Spelt

        1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: "Lightsaber"

          Emmer.

        2. Chris G Silver badge

          Re: "Lightsaber"

          Spelt is one of the earliest varieties of wheat, dating back to around 5000BC.

      2. Calum Morrison

        Re: "Lightsaber"

        Eh, it's us in the UK who've changed our spellings and are therefore "wrong". In most cases the colonials (there's a clue there) are spelling things as we told them how to before they left...

        1. Kubla Cant Silver badge

          Re: "Lightsaber"

          In some cases, maybe. But a lot of US spellings are the result of a half-baked "rational spelling" craze in the 19th century.

          On the other hand, English English has had its spellings mangled by half-baked crazes for exotic spelling (e.g. "dette" became "debt" because the Latin "debit*" root - dunno what happened to the "i"). So it's quite possible that the "*re" words are a Froggy affectation.

          1. Alistair Dabbs

            Re: "Lightsaber"

            Lightsaber = someone who lightsabes.

            1. macjules Silver badge

              Re: "Lightsaber"

              Nope, its a pyromaniac with an affection for igniting anyone called 'Abe'.

            2. steelpillow Silver badge

              Re: "Lightsaber"

              Always thought it just weighed less than a heavysaber

          2. CAPS LOCK Silver badge

            Noah Webster Jr is to blame for American spelling...

            ...He wast a staunch republican and decided to reform spelling for the good of the new American state using his dictionary.

            1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

              Re: Noah Webster Jr is to blame for American spelling...

              .. and to simplify the spelling for all those immigrants[1] for whom English wasn't their native language.

              [1] Yeah - all the people in the US are immigrant-born. Damn immigrants, going over there and massacring the inhabitants. Trail of Tears anyone? Mind you, we are not exactly innocent either.

        2. Allan George Dyer Silver badge
          Holmes

          Re: "Lightsaber"

          @Calum Morrison - 'the UK who've changed our spellings and are therefore "wrong"'

          No, it makes the US outdated. Don't they know Tudor English End of Extended Support was in 1649? They should be downloading the latest updates when they're issued.

          1. veti Silver badge

            Re: "Lightsaber"

            Their subscription lapsed in 1776. Since then they've forked their own version.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: "Lightsaber"

              With Blackjack.

            2. Kiwi Silver badge
              Trollface

              Re: "Lightsaber"

              Since then they've forked their own version.

              They're forked a lot of other things as well, phonetically speaking...

            3. Allan George Dyer Silver badge
              Facepalm

              Re: "Lightsaber"

              @veti - "Their subscription lapsed in 1776. Since then they've forked their own version."

              So they should have renamed it after the fork!

        3. Mage Silver badge
          Headmaster

          Re: US original Spelling Myth

          It's a myth that USA has the older spelling. Sometimes they do have it, but mostly they don't.

          UK dictionaries print usage, which reinforces the observed common usage.

          Webster (1st US Dictionary), decided on his own how many words should have reformed spelling. He is responsible for -er rather than -re endings, dropping u from -our and changing LL to L in the middle of words. The -re in English may often be from Norman French as are the names of cooked meats rather than the live animals. Normans were originally Norse men, so the French they brought to England in 1066 from Normandy wasn't quite the same as other "French" regions.

          Also many other US words are modern contractions. Northern Ireland and Scotland have a better claim to "original spelling" than the USA. Also British spelling is about widespread usage. Hence two words eventually get a hyphen (no one -> no-one) and then sometimes like German, become compound words.

          1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

            Re: US original Spelling Myth

            Normandy wasn't quite the same as other "French" regions

            Just like 'English' isn't really a monolithic language - every Saxon/Angle/Jute region had it's own dialect and (to a large extent) those differences were retained into modern English. And lets not forget the huge Norse/Celtic influences either - northern English retains a lot of Norse (and in places like Cumbria, Celtic influences).

            In short, English is the illigetimate offspring of many mothers and farhers. Mixed in a decidedly promiscuous way.. Mind you, it still grinds my gears when I see the total lack of grammar and mistakes in vocabulary in (particularly) self-published books.

        4. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: "Lightsaber"

          "In most cases the colonials (there's a clue there) are spelling things as we told them how to before they left..."

          So, you're saying those colonials are stuck in the past and incapable of motionating forwards?

      3. Alister Silver badge

        Re: "Lightsaber"

        then can you tell us how words are spelled.

        Normally I would agree, and did in fact upvote you, but as the word was made up by Mr Lucas, (or one of his scriptwriters) I don't think that applies in this case.

        1. Benson's Cycle

          Re: "Lightsaber"

          It's the same as "Pearl Harbour" in British texts which always grates on me because the Americans named it and have the right to spell it how they like.

          1. Goldmember

            Re: "Lightsaber"

            It's the same as "Pearl Harbour" in British texts which always grates on me because the Americans named it and have the right to spell it how they like.

            They didn't invent the word "Harbour" though, did they? If they'd wanted to misspell Pearl in this instance then fair enough. But a harbour is a harbour

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: "Lightsaber"

              To be consistent, they didn't invent the word 'pearl' either.

          2. find users who cut cat tail

            Re: "Lightsaber"

            So do you travel to Wien, Venezia, Praha, Москва, etc.? Or Vienna, Venice, Prague and Moscow?

            If Americans misname places everywhere in the world then we can reciprocally (mis)name places in the US.

            1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

              Re: "Lightsaber"

              reciprocally (mis)name places in the US

              Most of which place-names they stole from us anyway. Even Pennsylvania - it's a village outside Bath..

    2. Alistair Dabbs

      I'm going to stick with the Sabre Lite version.

      1. EVP Bronze badge

        I presume the Lite version comes with ads and you cannot undo.

        1. JassMan Silver badge

          I don't thonk undo is an option with any kind of sabre. Once you've been cut you are going to show a decent scar at the very least. Death is even less undo-able.

          1. ITMA

            " Death is even less undo-able."

            Are we talking the Blue Screen or Black Screen variants of Death? :)

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Or indeed purple.

            2. imanidiot Silver badge

              The operating fluid losses resulting from sabre interactions would probably result in Red screens.

  2. chivo243 Silver badge

    Johnny Cab!

    +1 for Johnny Cab photo!

    +1 for Dabsy's new photo! Noh is vhen vee dance on Sprokets!

    1. Jame_s

      Re: Johnny Cab!

      johnny cabs didnt fly.

      a still from 5th element would have been nearer the mark.

      1. Chris G Silver badge

        Re: Johnny Cab!

        "johnny cabs didnt fly."

        All cabs can potentially fly, just depends on where you drive them.

        I think the 'Dog Fart Perpetual Engine' has the edge on Cat Toast engines.

        At least going by the energetic potential produced by my neighbour's rottweiler, it has moved several people a distance of twenty yards or so in what amounts to teleport speed.

        The article should have had the Yardbirds video: Uber, under, sideways, down.

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L4DdAs0PddQ

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Johnny Cab!

      Hey Dabbs,

      Can I have a photo of you so I can get a Freakmask?

  3. Jim84

    Flying taxis = wrong solution to right problem

    Congestion in cities is caused because the road network is largely 2D, with crossroads, and it is incredibly expensive to put roads in the air or underground in tunnels.

    Podcars hanging from steel beams are effectively running on "roads" that are cheap to put in the air. So they can avoid 2D congestion due to crossroads like flying taxis, but without the noise associated with moving 2 metric tonnes of air down per second to keep the flying taxi/helicopter airborne.

    A GRT/PRT system could allow nearly the point to point mobility and privacy of cars, along with the lack of congestion of flying taxis. Yes trains or buses with dedicated buslanes have less congestion, but in a journey of greater than five stops the time spent stopping at every station becomes significant.

    One big impediment to Personal Rapid Transit systems so far has been the lack of an autopilot that allows the PRT pods to travel quickly, however with this tech being developed for cars, the time of PRT might be about to arrive. Probably around some newly built airport in the developing world (note Heathrows podcars are neither fast nor hanging (still require mini roads)).

    http://openprtspecs.blogspot.com/2008/06/its-roads-stupid.html

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. chivo243 Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: Flying taxis = wrong solution to right problem

      Better solution would be the "Tubes" in Futurama. Radio City Music Hall Please!

      1. Anonymous Custard Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        Re: Flying taxis = wrong solution to right problem

        Can you drop me at Madison Cube Gardens on the way?

        (icon to thumb a lift...)

      2. tfewster Silver badge

        Re: Flying taxis = wrong solution to right problem

        Why invest all that money in infrastructure that will be obsolete when teleportation arrives*?

        * For some value of "arrives" - does videoconferencing count? How about 'porting your consciousness into a clone/robot at your destination?

        1. RM Mynez-Arefzlash

          Re: Flying taxis = wrong solution to right problem

          tfewster, your comment about porting consciousness as a means of travel reminds me of the film "XChange" which used that idea. It wasn't a great film but I liked the way it explored alternative uses of such a technology; the most amusing being for exercise: swap with your personal trainer who can do a work out with your body whilst you sit in his and stuff yourself full of doughnuts.

          1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

            Re: Flying taxis = wrong solution to right problem

            "the most amusing being for exercise: swap with your personal trainer who can do a work out with your body whilst you sit in his and stuff yourself full of doughnuts."

            Now that I could get onboard with!!!!!!

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Flying taxis = wrong solution to right problem

        WELCOME TO THE WORLD OF TOMORROW!

    3. Barry Rueger Silver badge

      Re: Flying taxis = wrong solution to right problem

      MONORAIL!

    4. MachDiamond Silver badge

      Re: Flying taxis = wrong solution to right problem

      "One big impediment to Personal Rapid Transit systems so far has been the lack of an autopilot that allows the PRT pods to travel quickly"

      Which PRT implementation are you looking at? UltraPRT (may be gone now) built the system at Heathrow terminal 5. Not a big system, but it navigates itself. There is also a system under Masdar City in Dubai (I think it's Dubai).

      PRT seems like an excellent fit for dense city centers. So far no council has wanted to take the risk as it's "unproven" so they keep buying busses and letting taxis do the point to point work. So much for progress. On the flip side you get places like Las Vegas that are happy to let Elon burrow sewer sized tunnels under the convention center for a system that doesn't look like it will ever be viable.

      The cost of ground based transportation ranges in cost from surface roads to elevated roads to underground "roads". In a city like London, the surface is full up. The Underground is great for throughput efficiency but doesn't cover the last mile very well. An obvious solution is an elevated road system that uses automated lightweight electric pods with less capacity each but more possible stops. They could even route through buildings as they don't emit pollution being electric. Ultra PRT was exploring an option for people to own their own pod so they could drive to the edge of a city, log into the elevated guideway and the vehicle would self drive to the destination and then be sent on to a parking area to wait until it was called.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Flying taxis = wrong solution to right problem

        "In a city like London, the surface is full up."

        Crossrail shows that things are getting tricky below the surface as well.

        1. MachDiamond Silver badge

          Re: Flying taxis = wrong solution to right problem

          "Crossrail shows that things are getting tricky below the surface as well."

          I watched the shows on the construction where they were winding through all sorts of stuff. Very impressive they can guide the tunnel boring machines that accurately.

    5. Mage Silver badge
      Black Helicopters

      Re: Flying taxis = wrong solution to right problem

      Umbrella transit system. "Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow". I think possible without magic.

      I must get the 3rd book.

    6. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Flying taxis = wrong solution to right problem

      "Podcars hanging from steel beams are effectively running on "roads" that are cheap to put in the air. "

      So, what we really need is a....monorail!

      1. Kiwi Silver badge
        Coat

        Re: Flying taxis = wrong solution to right problem

        So, what we really need is a....monorail!

        I dunno.. Proponents of that seem to suffer from a one-track mind!

      2. Wonder Dog

        Re: Flying taxis = wrong solution to right problem

        We had one in Sydney. It was a gimmick. It's been removed as it was quicker to take a train, can or just ealk

        1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

          Re: Flying taxis = wrong solution to right problem

          I don't care to travel by elk again, but tell me more about this can-transit system.

    7. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Flying taxis = wrong solution to right problem

      > A GRT/PRT system could allow nearly the point to point mobility and privacy of cars

      And how do people get from street level to these pod cars 30 feet up, above all the traffic?

      At stations perhaps? Which will have the lifts necessary for disabled people. So "point-to-point" is now "stop-to-stop" starting to sound like a mono-rail version of the DLR.

      1. Jim84

        Re: Flying taxis = wrong solution to right problem

        With hanging pods inclines and declines can be very steep, even vertical, as the arm can rotate.

        This means that elevated stations with elevators aren't needed in low intesity areas, lowering the cost of the system. Have a read of:

        http://openprtspecs.blogspot.com/2010/04/twisted.html

      2. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

        Re: Flying taxis = wrong solution to right problem

        version of the DLR

        All travellelers on the DLR probably are not aware that one of my brothers was an engineer writing the original signalling and guidance system..

        Travel safely now!

    8. ITMA

      Re: Flying taxis = wrong solution to right problem

      "Congestion in cities is caused because the road network is largely 2D, with crossroads"

      Or as we have in the UK, roundabouts - until some idiot decided they needed traffic lights around them. Then they stopped working properly....

      1. terrythetech

        Re: Flying taxis = wrong solution to right problem

        "Then they stopped working properly...."

        Roundabouts are fine when there is roughly equal traffic on all entrances, but on a minor road joining a major road you could be sitting there all day. It could be argued that traffic lights with the correct sequencing and no roundabout would be a better solution in this case.

        However, traffic lights on roundabouts are a nightmare and, as you say, stop roundabouts working very well.

        1. Kiwi Silver badge
          Pint

          Re: Flying taxis = wrong solution to right problem

          Roundabouts are fine when there is roughly equal traffic on all entrances, but on a minor road joining a major road you could be sitting there all day. It could be argued that traffic lights with the correct sequencing and no roundabout would be a better solution in this case.

          Ermm... No.

          I use such roundabouts at least a couple of times a day, some more than once. I'm often coming from the very minor road to the major one or even crossing from one minor road to another. Worst I had was 3 or 4 minutes, and that was yesterday behind a learner driver who wasn't confident about entering a smaller gap - something I had no problem with as learners learn better when they're not under undue pressure.

          NZ is a place that likes to stack roundabouts upon roundabouts upon roundabouts, you you experience 3 that are all-but connected at the hip (although 2 in this fashion is common).

          In the worst places of busy/minor roads the roundabout is airborne, and is above the major road with on/off ramps (examples Mungavin/SH1 at Porirua, SH2/SH58 at Manor Park). Well, worst except SH1/sh58/Paremata Station carpark one. Coming out of the park during morning peak, most of the main road traffic gives way to the station traffic, but evening peak is different. But the SH58 traffic causes the main road traffic to pause so you only wait a minute or two for a gap, plus if heading north the left turning lane helps a lot.

          Badly designed ones give you a few minutes wait. Well designed ones drop that well down. Many of ours have a left-turning lane to help people off the minor road, though that really is very seldom an issue.

          The Hutt Valley is littered with roundabouts of varying sizes, and some of them in the Wellington Region are so small they're literally a white dot in the middle of the intersection (eg Glasgow/Upland intersection in Karori - there is smaller but I cannot recall where it is ATM) yet carry plenty of traffic with no issue and very small wait times, even for the very small streets intersecting very major highways.

          1. ITMA

            Re: Flying taxis = wrong solution to right problem

            I grant you that WELL DESIGNED and PROPERLY TIMED traffic lights can help in the vicinity of roundabouts where the traffic is uneven.

            The problem is when traffic lights are placed directly on the entrance to a roundabout. Having any traffic control light on the entrance to a roundabout which can show green automatically means that you MUST have another traffic light ON the roundabout just before the entrance which shows red - and that's the problem.

            Traffic lights ON the roundabout itself basically cause the roundabout in many cases to seize up as they bring the flow of traffic around the roundabout to a halt. The tailbacks from those lights then can (and frequently does on the M25 J28 and J30 and in Chelmsford on the Army & Navy roundabout) block both entrances to (showing green) and exits from the roundabout just exacerbating the problem.

            Perhaps what is needed is to have traffic lights on the approaches to roundabouts where possible set back from the actual entrances. Traffic that passes the lights then still has to obey the basic rules of joining the roundabout. You can still control the flow of traffic approaching the roundabout to join but removes the need to have traffic lights ON the roundabout itself.

            The alternative is to introduce a new rule for a new style of traffic light (in the UK) which does NOT show green. It can show red to stop traffic, but when not showing red traffic has to obey the normal rules of joining a roundabout eliminating the need to have traffic lights around the roundabout showing red stopping the flow around the roundabout itself.

  4. SVV Silver badge

    Don't Uber and other app based firms already run flying taxis, but only after dark?

    A friend told me that they were all a bunch of fly-by-night operators.

    1. Anonymous Custard Silver badge

      Re: Don't Uber and other app based firms already run flying taxis, but only after dark?

      Oh well done sir, definitely down to our normal pun standard here! Have an upvote...

      1. steelpillow Silver badge
        Pint

        Re: Don't Uber and other app based firms already run flying taxis, but only after dark?

        And a beer

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Trollface

      Re: Don't Uber and other app based firms already run flying taxis, but only after dark?

      Yep. It was just over a year ago they flew me to Gatwick - great service.

      Had to get them to fly me home again when my plane (among many others) was inexplicably grounded.

  5. Neil Barnes Silver badge
    Paris Hilton

    Did I get this right?

    If I want a flying taxi, I have to use my phone to photograph my bottom?

    1. VonDutch

      Re: Did I get this right?

      That would be a new excuse for the proctologist to hear.

    2. Chris G Silver badge

      Re: Did I get this right?

      Yes!

    3. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Did I get this right?

      No you misunderstood, because it would be too expensive to have TSA for every flying cab you have to feel your own bottom

      1. EVP Bronze badge

        Re: Did I get this right?

        You really deserve a self-service upvote.

        I hereby officially declare your comment as Post of the Week. I can’t stop laughing xD

        1. EVP Bronze badge

          Tears in my eyes.

          I still can’t stop...

          Self-service security check could be the next big thing for budget airlines.

          1. JassMan Silver badge

            Re: Tears in my eyes.@EVP

            Just like self-certifcation fror airworthiness, that is bound to end well.

            1. Benson's Cycle

              Re: Tears in my eyes.@EVP

              It's all a big laugh till it has serious consequences.

  6. Teiwaz Silver badge

    Uber Flaying Taxis

    Fat chance, luckily.

    The last thing the customer needs is to discover they've got more of a ride than they bargained for from some unlicenced underpaid headcase who took the job partially for the chance to corner a victim several hundred feet up.

    Safer alternative would be to build a heavy duty drone with handrails on the underside -

    Try for a drone and passenger design that creates a Mary Poppins like silhouette, be a great tourist draw for London.

    1. big_D Silver badge

      Re: Uber Flaying Taxis

      The taxis I've seen demoed up until now (mainly rendered films) are all pilotless.

      1. vtcodger Silver badge

        Re: Uber Flaying Taxis

        Of course they are pilotless. Who in their right mind would risk their life driving a flying taxi as a sub-minimum wage, no-benefits job?

        1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

          Re: Uber Flaying Taxis

          The same people would run up $100K in student debt followed by $50K learning to fly, then years of sub-minimum wage crop dusting or flight instructing - so that they can get their dream job of $25k/pa 1st officer with a regional airline

    2. Mage Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: Mary Poppins like silhouette

      Mentioned above: Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow

    3. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

      Re: Uber Flaying Taxis

      heavy duty drone with handrails on the underside

      Fine unless you happen to be wearing a skirt or a kilt..

  7. Andy Non Silver badge
    Joke

    What we need are

    Personal transit tubes like those on Futurama. Just step in and whoosh you get sucked up and blown out at your destination.

    1. Dr_N Silver badge

      Re: What we need are

      A transit system as a "series of tubes"? Wouldn't things get "tangled up" ?

      1. Neil Barnes Silver badge

        Re: What we need are

        It seems to mostly work for teh intarwebs...

      2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: What we need are

        No, you just get chopped into packets and reassembled at the other end.

        1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

          Re: What we need are

          chopped into packets and reassembled at the other end

          Cue sci-fi short story "I'd rather walk".. (Can't remember the author - Asimov? Clarke?).

    2. Rameses Niblick the Third Kerplunk Kerplunk Whoops Where's My Thribble? Silver badge

      Re: What we need are

      Absolutely what I'm waiting for!

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RU3l6qtVQbY

      1. Alistair Dabbs

        Re: What we need are

        The Futurama tube reminds me of Dildano’s escape chutes in Barbarella.

    3. mhoulden

      Re: What we need are

      Just step in and whoosh you get sucked up and blown out at your destination.

      I think that was a service they offered around Kings Cross station in the 80s.

    4. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

      Re: What we need are

      Xenon at about 170 atmospheres pressure has the same density as a human. Use that as your transport gas and humans will float as they are blown through Futurama tubes. There is the small problem of the time required for decompression afterwards but if you skip that then there is no need for suicide booths.

      1. swm Silver badge

        Re: What we need are

        It is possible to blow air upwards at about 100 mph in a tube and actually fly in it. My son tried it out and loved it.

        1. Stoneshop Silver badge
          Boffin

          Re: What we need are

          Well that would make a spiffy replacement for an elevator if you run it slightly faster, with a second one next to it running at a little less, for those who want to go down, but travelling mostly concerns horizontal movement over various distances. Which means that you'd have to find a way to get gravity to act sideways instead of down for this to work. Also, to do so very locally, as I might be wanting to travel in the opposite direction that you're going.

  8. Dr_N Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    CCTV confirm that Jacob Rees-Mogg was to blame.

    In future all crimes should be attributed/solved in this manner.

    1. Venerable and Fragrant Wind of Change
      Thumb Up

      Re: CCTV confirm that Jacob Rees-Mogg was to blame.

      Private Eye have been running a long series of JRM lookalikes. Ranging from human and other animals through to a creatively-crumpled plastic bottle.

  9. imanidiot Silver badge

    We have the technology

    We've had the technology to make VTOL flying vehicles for nearing a hundred years. Nobody has made it work, because it's fundamentally an unworkable solution to a problem that doesn't exist.

    True congestion in for instance NY cannot be "fixed" by going 3d, there's still too little space available. Large cities COULD however take steps to actually promote things like bicycles which can greatly reduce the intra-city traffic load.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: We have the technology

      But what happens when most of your traffic load is INTER-city (meaning most of the traffic is coming in from Westchester County, Long Island, or New Jersey instead?)

      1. Stork Silver badge

        Re: We have the technology

        The solution involves urban planning, which seems to be unfashionable in many English speaking countries.

        Switzerland does quite well, but the combination of money and public support for public transport helps. Interesting, they don't have any major car manufacturers

      2. Kiwi Silver badge
        Go

        Re: We have the technology

        But what happens when most of your traffic load is INTER-city

        [engages brain for 0.005 seconds] Well, you could do like the Wellington system where people ride their bikes to the train station, board the train WITH their bike, travel to the station near their destination, then ride the rest of the way.

        or, or, or, or, or, you could do like they do around these parts and walk/ride to the local station, train to nearby stop, then use a hire bike or free bike (think there's still some around) or e-scooter to destination, leaving the bike there for someone else to use.

        [another 0,00005 seconds of thought] Or..............

    2. Cynic_999 Silver badge

      Re: We have the technology

      "

      Large cities COULD however take steps to actually promote things like bicycles which can greatly reduce the intra-city traffic load.

      "

      Excellent solution - except for those of us who like to arrive warm and dry at their destination most of the time.

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: We have the technology

        The silicon valley solution.

        A set of pelaton bikes in the back of a bus where you can cycle in the warm and dry while keeping up with your stats on your mobile app - and get to your destination

      2. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

        Re: We have the technology

        except for those of us who like to arrive warm and dry at their destination most of the time

        Whenever I've commuted by bicycle, "warm" was not a problem. Quite the opposite, in fact. I'd have done it more if my workplaces offered showers.

        (Of course, having grown up in New England, I think being warm and dry just makes you soft. Misery builds character, damn it.)

    3. MachDiamond Silver badge

      Re: We have the technology

      The bigger problem with mega cities is they are just too 'ing dense. Most people don't want to live in them so they find a house or flat in the burbs and commute. There aren't enough places to land and take off to make a noticeable difference.

      Was it in The Moon is a Harsh Mistress where the protagonist (or a main character) pointed out that Earth's population problems couldn't be solved through emigration even if they were to catapult people from the surface. More people were born than could be reasonably launched. Or was it the Mars trilogy by Kim Stanley Robinson? I see the same thing with flying taxis. The throughput just isn't there.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: We have the technology

        "The bigger problem with mega cities is they are just too 'ing dense. Most people don't want to live in them so they find a house or flat in the burbs and commute."

        Those are the second and third order problems. The first order problem is that they're too big in terms of both population and the volume of business being conducted in them. Distribute the business to smaller cities which need a smaller population, less density and less commuting.

        There may, of course, be a zero order problem of too many people but we seem well overdue for a pandemic which could take care of that.

        1. MachDiamond Silver badge

          Re: We have the technology

          "The first order problem is that they're too big in terms of both population and the volume of business being conducted in them. "

          That fits my definition of density. The problems of getting around and parking or the amount of time public transportation takes to go 4 blocks is frustrating. Lots of frustrated people leads to short tempers. It's sort of a relief to get to your cubicle after the crawl from your house all the way to work. Come 3pm, you start getting tense over the return trip starting with everybody trying to cram into the lift.

    4. NLCSGRV

      Re: We have the technology

      If large cities could also teach cyclists how to follow the rules of the road and stay off pavements where they don't belong, you might be on to something there.

      1. imanidiot Silver badge

        Re: We have the technology

        That's a problem that get's solved more or less on it's own if the amount of cyclists increases. Right now in cities like NY it's sometimes necessary to use the sidewalk/pavement as a cyclist because it's simply dangerous to use the road. If drivers actually get accustomed to watching for cyclists and the infrastructure changes support cycling better, things will improve in this regard. It'll never get completely solved (A**holes will be A**holes) but it CAN happen!.

        The Netherlands up until the oil crisis of 1973 was very car oriented similar to how much of the world still is. It was not until after those events and the second "crisis" in 1979 that our society changed to one where owning and using a bike is the norm. Similar changes can still happen in other countries. The problem for cities like NY is that they are built with the use of a car in mind and the urban sprawl is mind boggling. People commute distances that are unheard of in the Netherlands simply because there is no housing available closer to the city. The solution to that would be spreading businesses out too, instead of concentrating them all in massive high-rise buildings in Manhattan, but it will take a while to convince the general society of that fact.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: We have the technology

          Perhaps one reason is a demand (sometimes a legal one) for physical, face-to-face interaction. One type of service that thrives in cities like New York is courier services, where actual physical things need to be ferried from place to place, preferable ASAP and definitely before the close of business.

  10. Warm Braw Silver badge

    These kind of ideas go back a long way

    See, for example, King's Cross Airport.

    It's what happens when you assume the technology of the day is going to stand still long enough for you to rationalise it.

    That said, there's nothing wrong with the idea of flying cars in principle, it's the weight of the umbrellas you'd have to carry around that's the problem.

    1. Kubla Cant Silver badge

      Re: These kind of ideas go back a long way

      He [Charles Glover, proposing Kings Cross Airport] said that city-men would be encouraged to fly between meetings

      And there we have it. Why are we all zooming around the country, at great expense in time, fuel and carbon emissions, to do things that can easily be done remotely?

      About 25% of my working day is spent commuting, and I don't think that's unusual. When I get to work, I sit in front of a computer and type. Some days, my interaction with my co-workers is limited to "Good morning" and "See you tomorrow".

      Working from home? My experience is that employers start off enthusiastic, but after a while they start to get twitchy and demand bums on seats unless there's a cast-iron reason for WFH.

      1. Charles 9 Silver badge

        Re: These kind of ideas go back a long way

        "Working from home? My experience is that employers start off enthusiastic, but after a while they start to get twitchy and demand bums on seats unless there's a cast-iron reason for WFH."

        Because people still (instinctively) value a face-to-face interaction: the INefficiency of going the extra mile and so on. And since things like this can determine lucrative contracts and so on...

      2. Franco Silver badge

        Re: These kind of ideas go back a long way

        Depends very much on workplace culture too. Start-ups/Hipstery places/"Disruptive" tech companies love non-standard workplace culture, lots of more entrenched companies have the fear of poor user productivity as being the main reason they are against WFH. Personally I find I get much more done as people think twice about bothering me if I'm at home, plus I get more sleep, save money on fuel and spend much less time ironing shirts.

      3. Cynic_999 Silver badge

        Re: These kind of ideas go back a long way

        "

        Working from home? My experience is that employers start off enthusiastic, but after a while they start to get twitchy and demand bums on seats unless there's a cast-iron reason for WFH.

        "

        That's because in so many cases employees start off honestly putting in the same work as they did from the office, but gradually the time spent on non-work related activities increasingly encroaches into the work-related stuff until the decline in productivity becomes significant.

        1. Venerable and Fragrant Wind of Change

          Re: These kind of ideas go back a long way

          Or perhaps because unproductive time gets noticed. In the office it was six months blocked by waiting for your vital inputs - the cost of institutional inefficiency. At home it might be days rather than months, but it's your fault and you need to be watched.

          Sometimes I'm glad I gave up working in an office. Though to be fair, many of the things that blocked me in the past - like waiting for a 'puter on which to work - are more-or-less N/A nowadays.

      4. MachDiamond Silver badge

        Re: These kind of ideas go back a long way

        "Working from home? My experience is that employers start off enthusiastic, but after a while they start to get twitchy and demand bums on seats unless there's a cast-iron reason for WFH."

        As part of her goal of running Yahoo into the dirt, Marissa Mayer revoked WFH for all of the outworkers. Of all types of businesses out there, something like Yahoo is made to order for remote workers.

        1. Benson's Cycle

          Re: These kind of ideas go back a long way

          When you get the top job and don't have a clue, reversing your predecessor's policies works. For a while.

          It's "disruption", you know.

          1. MachDiamond Silver badge

            Re: These kind of ideas go back a long way

            "When you get the top job and don't have a clue, reversing your predecessor's policies works. For a while."

            Yep, That just happened with the local hardware store. The previous owner retired and sold the store and the new owner didn't waste much time getting rid of the staff and installing friends and family. They shifted all of the shelves around too for unknown reasons. There's nobody there now that knows much about hardware or where things can be found.

            1. Kiwi Silver badge
              Pint

              Re: These kind of ideas go back a long way

              They shifted all of the shelves around too for unknown reasons.

              That used to be the practice of supermarkets over these ways, every few months.. Idea being that customers got to know where the things they wanted were so could go straight ot them, missing the opportunity to buy other pointless/needless junk on the way. So mix it up, make people have to search, and hey they spend more money - or so the thinking goes.

              There's nobody there now that knows much about hardware or where things can be found.

              Sadly that seems to be the same with the "big box" car stores over these ways. And plumbing. Recently found a small plumbing store on Hutt Road in Petone. Prices are generally on a par with the big-box places but the service is damned good. Guys know their stuff, happy to chat, happy to act as a sounding board, and the impressive bit - "We do sell that, but so-and-so is cheaper" (to which I've said "I'm here, might as well get it from you".

              Couple of years back I was after some valve lapping tools for an engine rebuild. At the big-box auto stores (one of which markets themselves on a great deal of knowledge about cars so much so they can tell you what car an oil filter fits just from the silhouette) the twits there met my question with blank stares and utterly confused looks. By chance found a small store (name somewhat after the city I live in) and cautiously asked after them. "Yeah, 3rd isle, middle shelf. You'll see the paste on the shelf below. What sort of head? Oh, for that you want to use this paste first, then that paste". For years I sought di-electric grease (helps keep bike switches working). Asked at this store, "No we don't have it, but we can get some in. Will be here next week, ok?".

              These guys are all older, youngest would be around my age (mid-late 40s). I dread the loss of skill and knowledge when the likes of them die, so few people today getting the same level of skill set (at least the Naenae mower guy has passed his skills on!)

              But I have seen too many small successful shops sell out to muppets who have no clue as to what was the source of the success, and fail soon after.

              1. Kubla Cant Silver badge

                Re: These kind of ideas go back a long way

                They shifted all of the shelves around too for unknown reasons.... That used to be the practice of supermarkets

                In an exquisite refinement, a local Tesco has moved things to different aisles, but they haven't changed the hanging notices at the end of the aisles.

              2. MachDiamond Silver badge

                Re: These kind of ideas go back a long way

                " "We do sell that, but so-and-so is cheaper""

                Yeah, and you wind up burning 3 liters of petrol to save £1.50. It's like driving across town to fill up when the total difference is 50p. "But, it's cheaper". Yes, I can do maths even if I do buy a lottery ticket from time to time.

                1. Kiwi Silver badge

                  Re: These kind of ideas go back a long way

                  " "We do sell that, but so-and-so is cheaper""

                  Yeah, and you wind up burning 3 liters of petrol to save £1.50. It's like driving across town to fill up when the total difference is 50p. "But, it's cheaper". Yes, I can do maths even if I do buy a lottery ticket from time to time.

                  Yeah ahh no.. Pipezone (the small shop with the amazing service and usually very good prices), Mitre 10 (NZ-owned big-box hardware store) and Bunnings (ozzie owner big-box hardware store) are actually only a few hundred metres from each other. And we're not talking savings of a couple of bucks but bulk-buying items where the price difference per item might be over $10. What''s it cost to drive to a store you were going to anyway (Pipezone are plumbing only after all, as the name hints) where you can get stuff cheaper?

                  Besides, cheaper isn't always cheaper. Tried to get that electrician acquaintance of mine to understand if he keeps getting his tat from Ali Express and Amazon, no one local will have the money to hire him as no one local will have jobs. This year he might save $10,000, and the same next year, and the year after that he might save $100,000 - but then after that he might find he has no job and there's no welfare anymore either. Either keep your area working, or loose you job with everyone else in time (unless you're old enough your life will be over before things really start to bite).

                  That said - recent employment stats show around 4% so I guess the economy isn't doing too bad (though if you're in Auckland and you+your wife earn combined $150K don't think you can afford to rent a house, hope your car is comfy because that'll be your home!)

                  As to fuel.. Driving across town for a saving is a saving if you're there already :) I organise shopping around who I have to see and who I have to shop for, and I work my fuel purchases in to who I am near. Bear in mind 1) the Wellington region is smaller than many suburbs and 2) there's usually at least a 30c/L price difference across the city. Gaspy tells me that the cheapest within 30km is $2.026/L but the most expensive is $2.389/L The Z service station at 60 Hutt Rd Petone is 2.049 whereas the Z at 453 Hutt Rd (not far along the same road) is 2.109. Sure, you aren't saving much but there's a damned good chance you're driving past both. Of course, if driving further isn't worth it you could stop at the Mobil across the road from the cheaper Z - that's 2.149. Across the road from each other but 10c/L cheaper.

                  Spend a few seconds planning and you may be able to do it a lot cheaper - but that does of course depend on your normal habits and where you'll be. Me? I'm all over the place when I am out, it's worth it to look for the cheaper places as I cover much of the Hutt Valley and also often get into Wellington. Shopping also takes us to butchers and green grocers and the like. Sure could do it all with one stop at the supermarket, but people prefer the quality, the people I drive look forward to the trips (gets them out of their homes), and the stuff is just far superior quality most of the time. (of course, having gardens where the lettuce in your burger or sandwich was still in the garden 10 minutes ago is quite nice as well :) )

                  As to lotto... I'm a huge proponent of Bonus Bonds myself. I may not have as much of a chance of winning, but at the end of the day if I don't win the draw I still have every single cent spent, whereas if I don't win enough to break even on lotto then I've lost money. I have quite a bit saved up in there.

                  1. MachDiamond Silver badge

                    Re: These kind of ideas go back a long way

                    "Spend a few seconds planning and you may be able to do it a lot cheaper - but that does of course depend on your normal habits and where you'll be."

                    Exactly right. I always combine trips whenever possible. My friends and I query each other if we are going to the grocery in case somebody needs one or two things. We also do this if we are headed some kms down the road to the next town to hit the big box store. A good friend has a ute so if I need something that isn't going to fit in my econobox, I can ride with him and get free delivery. Bonus.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: These kind of ideas go back a long way

            Just like Trump and Obama!

    2. big_D Silver badge

      Re: These kind of ideas go back a long way

      The same with the Rotodyne. Great concept, but a technological backwater that was impractical to implement.

    3. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      @ Warm Braw

      "there's nothing wrong with the idea of flying cars in principle"

      Sorry, there's everything wrong with that idea. First, just look at how people drive in 2D. It's like they can barely handle it. You want those idiots to pilot a flying car ? Why not just shoot yourself right away, it'll hurt less.

      Second, there's the problem of getting the vehicle in the air and, more importantly, making 100% sure it doesn't come down before it's supposed to. Airliners have to undergo expensive maintenance at regular intervals, and there's a whole infrastructure around that. Not to mention the certifications of aircraft maintenance technicians. They're not your corner garage mechanic.

      Third, there's the issue of breakdowns. Even the best-maintained car will likely be at risk of having something important go haywire. When it happens to a plane, it is generally high enough to be able to navigate to somewhere it can land safely, or it is crashing at the end of the runway. In either case, it is very rare to have a plane crash in a populated area. Flying cars will most likely be flying over cities, where the obstacles are numerous and the population is as well. Any breakdown will most likely result in deaths, most of which will be people who had nothing to do with the flying car - they just got it on the head.

      Finally, a flying car has the same fuel issues that rockets have. If you want to go far, you need to store more fuel, which increases weight, which uses more fuel to lift off, thereby diminishing your range. Rinse and repeat to your heart's delight. Pushing something forward is easy, lifting it off the ground without a crane is hard.

      But the main argument against flying cars is still the one that just stares you in the face at every commute : the people. They can't spend a minute without checking their bloody phones. That takes their attention off the road. In a flying car, you'll have to be 100% at what you're doing, no exceptions. You don't, you die - and maybe some other people die too.

      It's just too much of a risk, on top of being ridiculously non-carbon-friendly..

      1. vtcodger Silver badge

        Re: @ Warm Braw

        Getting the vehicle INTO the air really shouldn't be much of a problem. If it doesn't want to leave the ground, neither should you. Getting it OUT of the air with the payload and surroundings more or less intact might well be more of an issue at times

        1. Venerable and Fragrant Wind of Change

          Re: @ Warm Braw

          They'll need to fly by hitchhikers principles.

      2. Cynic_999 Silver badge

        Re: @ Warm Braw

        "

        But the main argument against flying cars is still the one that just stares you in the face at every commute : the people.

        "

        Any practical system of flying cars for daily use would pretty much require such cars to be fully automatic and navigated under central computer control (with failsafes) in order to manage the complex 3D navigational chess game. Automatic piloting is far easier to achieve with a flying vehicle than a ground vehicle because in the air there are no unexpected obstructions (apart from relatively small objects that need not present a danger). At least 3 X redundancy of all critical systems together with the vehicle refusing to take off should all systems not be functional could be part of the design, making the risk of serious accidents low enough to be perfectly acceptable.

        The main thing preventing such vehicles is that the technolgy allowing the design of a something that has a sufficiently long range and/or sufficiently short refueling time to be practical is not yet available.

        It would certainly have a huge number of advantages - most roads would no longer be needed, saving a huge cost to the country's infrastructure.

        1. Allan George Dyer Silver badge
          Facepalm

          Re: @ Warm Braw

          Cynic_999 - "most roads would no longer be needed"

          But you would need a lot more landing space and/or (are these VTOL cars where the landing space is the parking space?) open parking space. Multi-story and underground car parks aren't really suitable.

          1. Cynic_999 Silver badge

            Re: @ Warm Braw

            The vehicle would drop off the passenger and then fly empty to a parking space outside the city. Existing city roads would be devoid of land traffic and so serve as drop-off places along their entire lengths - gradually being replaced by rooftop drop-off points

            1. Kiwi Silver badge

              Re: @ Warm Braw

              The vehicle would drop off the passenger and then fly empty to a parking space outside the city. Existing city roads would be devoid of land traffic and so serve as drop-off places along their entire lengths - gradually being replaced by rooftop drop-off points

              So... Somewhere out in the country, somewhere green and fertile, has to be paved over? Some massive bit of land has to be cleared and paved to replace what would otherwise be a multi-story parking building? And what of the fuel cost of 2 lift-offs and 2 landings per trip? At least when I park my car and turn it off it uses no more energy.

              And to your previous post :

              Any practical system of flying cars for daily use would pretty much require such cars to be fully automatic and navigated under central computer control (with failsafes) in order to manage the complex 3D navigational chess game. Automatic piloting is far easier to achieve with a flying vehicle than a ground vehicle because in the air there are no unexpected obstructions (apart from relatively small objects that need not present a danger).

              In the last few weeks I've seen a surprising number of disabled modern vehicles (ie <5yo). Most I don't know the circumstances, some I know suffered an electrical failure taking out the ignition system, one lost all the rear lights (driver wasn't going to proceed without brake lights and indicators - very smart lady!). Many cars have individual coils or 1 coil per 2 cylinders, some have more than one set of ignition circuits. This is something that has been around since at least 1985 on Honda motorbikes - completely independent ignition circuits for pairs of plugs so of course if one circuit fails you can still ride with vastly reduced power. For a fault to knock out a car completely there has to be something very wrong with it.

              A car's electrical system failing, or many other potential engine/electrical faults, would make the car unable to maintain lift. We're talking car-sized craft here so not much room for wings, no rotors for auto-rotation, the loss of even a small fraction of lift is going to at best require a very rapid descent. At worst, such descent will be completely uncontrolled and un-announced. A falling vehicle will mean any others below need to move out of the way, and if there's any level either of congestion or lack-of-space (eg lanes between two buildings)

              It's not so easy to find traffic stats these days (IE I only spent 5 minutes searching), but Wikipedia [link removed as it triggers that stupid google datastealing captcha crap which I cannot get past due to "no google allowed"] says that Ngarunga Gorge sees 60,000 cars/day. SH2 must see at least that many, and given the 400,000+ citizens in Wellington it's safe to assume at least another 100,000 car movements/day. There's also lots of buses and taxis. That's near 1/4 of a million daily vehicle movements for a piddly little city. With road space being used for other things as you suggest, the available surface area for travelling would be reduced (if you stack them 3 high you'll only need 1/3rd of the space in idealistic theory). If one of the bottom tier vehicles comes down there's no issue, but if one of the top tier ones comes down.... Don't forget too that these won't be like airliners with toilet facilities, and people will have need for quick urgent stops, especially after a night on the booze or a meal at some of our less-reputable eateries.

              One other sudden obstacle I can think of - and am certain it will happen - is the sudden release of foil confetti AKA 'chaff'. It'll give a radar profile of something much larger, yet sufficient amount could be contained in something the size of a party-popper I expect. A "glitter bomb" could take on new meaning, with much more deadly results.

              At least 3 X redundancy of all critical systems together with the vehicle refusing to take off should all systems not be functional could be part of the design, making the risk of serious accidents low enough to be perfectly acceptable.

              There have (IIRC) been accidents caused by confusion over which sensor is correct and which is faulty. A main power fault (especially one where high voltage escapes its bounds) could knock out redundancies as well.

              But the part that most requires redundancies yet is least able to have them is the engines. To generate lift in such a vehicle you need to be able to generate enough thrust to equal the weight of the car+cargo, and more than that to get the thing moving. 6 fire hoses can lift a mini, and no doubt these would be fairly light vehicles - you're not going to do this to a Buick or full-sized Caddy. But each engine and control system adds considerable weight, and there's several issues with the control system especially responsiveness.

              Most planes can glide in the event of a power failure, and many use the angle of the wings (a very wide V shape) or the position of the wings in relation to the fuselage to assist stability In the event of a loss of hydraulics the plane should assume a fairly stable flight angle by simple nature of the forces acting on the wings and fuselage. With a flying brick you don't get this natural stability, and the loss of the front lift engines could quickly result in an un-recoverable attitude - they have to be emitting thrust almost instantly, and in such a way that any issues with the failed engine are dealt with. Of course, if that failure is physical due to impact with a large enough object (say an office chair tossed out a window?) then your chances of recovery are very very small indeed. Even just an engine bent out of alignment could cause significant control issues - with a flying brick they'd have to be fairly well tuned to give some semblance of fuel efficiency!

              (That said, some quad coptors seem to cope fairly well with the loss of one corner).

              The main thing preventing such vehicles is that the technolgy allowing the design of a something that has a sufficiently long range and/or sufficiently short refueling time to be practical is not yet available.

              In the 1960's you could make that argument and people would happily agree. Today it's much much more about efficiency, and even a "climate denier" such as myself is horrified at the thought of how much energy would be required to get these things moving. Until "Mr Fusion" is invented, these aren't realistic. Or some form of low-energy anti-gravity, or a substance is found that is lighter than helium but has a larger atom/molecule size (so it doesn't escape like helium does). You'd be wanting to lift still near a ton of mass but with the footprint of a medium sized car - there's a lot to overcome in that!

              It would certainly have a huge number of advantages - most roads would no longer be needed, saving a huge cost to the country's infrastructure.

              Oh, roads would still be needed. Emergency landing, rescue and recovery vehicles, the fact that many people won't want to come down from their roof when they should be able to be parked at the front door...

              Getting people onto bikes and into public transport would do so much more. At peak times a cyclist could travel between Petone and Wellington (13km by 100kph motorway) faster than any car, and someone on a train can get there faster still although there's a waiting time for the next train to arrive. A motorcyclist can do it in the time a car takes to move 100 metres (yay for splitting!) Every person out of a car makes it easier for everyone else, especially with how common SUVs and other generally stupidly-unnecessarily-sized vehicles are (I drive a wagon myself, but it is doing a wagon's work at least 1/2 the time rather than ferrying one person about - otherwise I ride a motorbike).

              And a decent public transport system is much much more efficient than any flying cars could hope to be. Until we can get the fuel requirements down, from a purely ecological view 'flying cars' are a disaster waiting to happen. That's before you worry about people modifying them in attempts to say allow them to break free from the "central control", perhaps so they can evade/escape police etc.

        2. MachDiamond Silver badge

          Re: @ Warm Braw

          "most roads would no longer be needed, saving a huge cost to the country's infrastructure."

          There is a huge efficiency problem with flight. You have to hold the aircraft up and move it forward both of which take energy. With ground transportation there is only the issue of moving the car forward. There is more infrastructure involved, but it's a better than even trade. Trains are the optimal solution for most long distance travel. They are much more energy efficient per passenger mile than anything else when used a decent percentages of capacity.

          You still need roads as heavy and bulk freight still needs to get from factory A to Store B. It will never be economical to air freight a head of lettuce.

          1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

            Re: @ Warm Braw

            "They are much more energy efficient per passenger mile than anything else when used a decent percentages of capacity."

            And there's yer problem. The same one all mass transit has. Travel off peak and either the mass transit vehicle is running at a financial and pollution loss or it's simply not there.

            1. Charles 9 Silver badge

              Re: @ Warm Braw

              OR off-route. The biggest problem mass transit has, and the one that's not time-dependent, is the infamous "last mile". And if you're going the last mile in unfamiliar territory in bad weather...

              1. Kiwi Silver badge
                Facepalm

                Re: @ Warm Braw

                OR off-route. The biggest problem mass transit has, and the one that's not time-dependent, is the infamous "last mile". And if you're going the last mile in unfamiliar territory in bad weather...

                I realise this is very hard for someone like you to grasp but.. Around the world, in the few hours between our posts, literally millions of people have managed to use "mass transit" without issue.

                This is a problem that was solved decades ago.

                1. Charles 9 Silver badge

                  Re: @ Warm Braw

                  "Around the world, in the few hours between our posts, literally millions of people have managed to use "mass transit" without issue."

                  ONLY millions? Last I checked, the population of the world is around 7 BILLION. That means there's a LOT of room for people for whom mass transit isn't an option (like myself--the nearest stop is miles away, and the weather's schizophrenic around here).

                  So NO, I DON'T call the problem solved.

                  1. Kiwi Silver badge
                    Facepalm

                    Re: @ Warm Braw

                    "Around the world, in the few hours between our posts, literally millions of people have managed to use "mass transit" without issue."

                    ONLY millions? Last I checked, the population of the world is around 7 BILLION. That means there's a LOT of room for people for whom mass transit isn't an option (like myself--the nearest stop is miles away, and the weather's schizophrenic around here).

                    So NO, I DON'T call the problem solved.

                    The stupid in your post is astounding....

                    Your post was at 14:38GMT on a Monday afternoon. Mine was at 21:22GMT that same Monday evening, 7 hours between.

                    Most of the world's population does not use "mass transit", many do not have access. Further, it's a fair bet that in those not-quite-7 hours, most of the worlds population did not travel at all. School-aged people in many countries are currently not at school, so for a very significant portion of the 7B population there's no school (not sure if those in the Northern Hemisphere have largely, partly or not-at-all started back at school after the Christmas holidays). Another significant portion of the population do not work at present (to young, lazy, infirm, on summer holiday, retired....), and many (such as farmers) work from home so do not travel.

                    Your assertion that for mass transit to be solved would require the entirety of the world's population to use mass transit in one 7 hour period is just... Even for you that's pretty messed up.

                    For the first/last mile issues, that too has long been solved. Where I live we have these things call cars which let us move from place to place. Near railway stations and larger bus depots we have these amazing places we can leave them called car parks. I am informed (from people who live and work in such places) that other cities in countries such as the USA also follow this pattern. In many cities it seems less than 50% of households have private cars yet manage travel quite well.

                    We also have smaller vehicles called bicycles which a single person can use to travel to a bus or train stop. Some services let them take these bicycles on the bus or train with them, to use at the other end of the trip.

                    Some trips may involve the use of multiple services but that too isn't an issue. EG I used to travel from Paraparaumu to Plimmerton by train, board a bus at Plimmerton to Waterloo in Lower Hutt, then take a train from there to Upper Hutt, and bus from there to work. I'd walk from Raumati Beach to the P'Ram station in OK weather if I had time, otherwise take a bus. Several stops, but not much longer than doing the trip by car at peak times - and much shorter if there was a traffic accident on one of the main roads (given how often that happened I'd say my 5miles walking +2 trains +2 buses still averaged quicker overall)

                    There are options for those who live miles from stops : walking, cycling, driving, ride-sharing/car pooling, other public/private transport.....

                    IOW, for those capable of a little bit of basic thought, yes the problem is well solved.

                    Sure, some people work quite some distance away from public transport - I used to pick a guy up from the then main Waikanae bus stop on my way in to another job and that was the nearest stop for a very long way. And some work at times not visited by public transport (I used to work a 8pm-2am shift, between the last and first bus of the day - but car-pooling helped a lot there), that's fine and I don't suggest people try to use MT where it's not available. But for a significant portion of the world's population it is, if only they wouldn't cry so much about how unreasonable it is that they have to get off one vehicle and on to another instead of using their car and sitting stuck in traffic for hours when they could be at home or out with people doing other things.

                    But yes, the millions who successfully used MT between our initial posts, many of whom drove or were driven some distance to/from a station, prove quite conclusively that these problems are well and truly solved.

            2. MachDiamond Silver badge

              Re: @ Warm Braw

              " Travel off peak and either the mass transit vehicle is running at a financial and pollution loss or it's simply not there."

              I agree. I'm not sure where the major costs are with rail, but running smaller trains off-peak would save fuel. It's like a store that only stocks the most popular items. You can buy AP flour and sugar but yeast wasn't moving fast enough so they don't stock it anymore. So much for baking a loaf of bread. BTW, fresh hot bread is 'ing amazing stuff and makes the house smell great. Worth the effort.

              Back in the days of electronics stores, a place like Radio Shack would only stock the most popular value of resistors so if you had a project that needed something other than the 4 values they had, you had to make a trip to the real electronics shop. Now it's easier to just buy the full assortment online.

              Where was I, oh yeah, if the off-peak trains are taken off, more people will find trains less useful and get in the habit of just driving. It might be more advantageous to run even more (smaller) trains so it's more convenient for people. Where I am, the schedule on the weekends is great for visiting my mum. On weekdays the schedules don't line up and I have to sit around for a couple of hours to get there and back as well as more expensive fares. So much more expensive and tedious that I'll just drive and be there faster for less.

              Some years ago when I went to Prague, I could get anywhere in the city with very little fuss. Granted, I was on holiday and not in a big rush.

              1. Kiwi Silver badge
                Pint

                Re: @ MachDiamond

                BTW, fresh hot bread is 'ing amazing stuff and makes the house smell great. Worth the effort.

                Sold! Was thinking of getting a breadmaker (what's your thoughts on them?) 2nd-hand tomorrow. Guess I will now.

                It might be more advantageous to run even more (smaller) trains so it's more convenient for people.

                They do that around here. During peak times a single train might be 3 or 4 unites packed to the gunwales, but off-peak they park some of the units at strategic locations and just go with a single. They still get plenty of use even off-peak. Sure you have to wait for a train and travel on their schedule, but if you're smart enough you can entertain yourself. If you're not in a hurry it's fine, and if you are in a hurry but don't have a car and can't afford a taxi what are you going to do? Be thankful it's there.

                (Oh, and if you have a "gold card' (something pensioners get), public transport is free in NZ - also people with certain disabilities get it as well - and I get to ride free with them as a 'helper' :) - did I mention I love trains? :) )

                1. MachDiamond Silver badge

                  Re: @ MachDiamond

                  Kiwi, Darn near any breadmaker is fine. The big issue is the size of the loaf they bake won't do a sandwich that will fit in a sandwich size baggie.

                  I just use the bread maker on the dough cycle and after it's done the punch down, I put the dough in a tin, let it do it's final rise and bake it off in my countertop convection oven. The full size oven is stuffed.

                  Go nuts on experimenting, Go fruit and veg too while you're at it. One of my favs is a garlic/rosemary loaf (french or cottage loaf style) to go with pasta. Tear off chunks and serve.

        3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: @ Warm Braw

          "The main thing preventing such vehicles is that the technolgy allowing the design of a something that has a sufficiently long range and/or sufficiently short refueling time to be practical is not yet available."

          Not unique to flying taxis.

      3. David Haig
        Mushroom

        Re: @ Warm Braw

        Scariest thought - flying cars designed by geniuses, built by robots, driven by Italians ..

        1. Benson's Cycle

          Re: @ Warm Braw

          That is just very out of date. Italy, while worse for fatalities per pkm* than Germany or the UK, is very much better than the US.

          Designed by geniuses, built by robots, driven by Americans is far more real-world dystopic.

          *passenger kilometre - an accurate comparison measure.

          1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

            Re: @ Warm Braw

            *passenger kill-o-metre

            FTFY

          2. Kiwi Silver badge
            Trollface

            Re: @ Warm Braw

            Designed by geniuses, built by robots, driven by Americans is far more real-world dystopic.

            I don't think we need to worry about that. I doubt there's enough thrust in the world to lift the average yank!

      4. HelpfulJohn Bronze badge

        Re: @ Warm Braw

        " In either case, it is very rare to have a plane crash in a populated area."

        Mostly because, even with seven milliards of humans buggering up the planet, populated areas are quite rare and those tiny oases of human-polluted grounds that do exist are studiously avoided by aeroplanes during much of their flights.

        The fuel issue of flying cars is easy to solve, R.T.G.'s. Make them hot-swappable, like battery packs, and the flyers could be made from oversized quadcoptery drone thingys.

        The issue of people being in charge of dangerous objects is easily avoided: put the machinery in charge. Don't let anything living anywhere near a steering wheel. That might even obviate the threat of peons pooping on popes and politicians or at least make it into more of a challenge, yet more so should a canopy lock be in place when the vehicle is in flight.

        Yes, computerised traffic control is difficult to make perfect but it's easy to make it far closer to being so than having humans in control.

        1. Charles 9 Silver badge

          Re: @ Warm Braw

          "The issue of people being in charge of dangerous objects is easily avoided: put the machinery in charge."

          Then why aren't they in charge already?

          1. Shooter
            Terminator

            Re: @ Warm Braw @ Charles 9

            Here, you forgot this ==>

          2. Cynic_999 Silver badge

            Re: @ Warm Braw

            "

            Then why aren't they in charge already?

            "

            Because it is very, very difficult to make an autopilot that can deal with land travel. Fully automatic air, rail and sea travel is at least an order of magnitude easier to achieve.

            1. Kiwi Silver badge
              Pint

              Re: @ Warm Braw

              "Then why aren't they in charge already?"

              Because it is very, very difficult to make an autopilot that can deal with land travel. Fully automatic air, rail and sea travel is at least an order of magnitude easier to achieve.

              Rail is probably easiest, as you have a limited corridor and any incursions are dealt with in the manner of "it's dead already. Slow to a stop then collect the pieces". I think the BART (San Francisco) system is completely automated?

              Air doesn't yet have the density of cars (either by numbers or by idiocy), but once we reach those levels it'll become much much harder to manage especially with miscreants trying to mess things up. The busiest cities would have what, a couple of hundred aircraft in their airspace at peak times? But they'd have several times that in cars at quiet times!

              I've heard of autopilot systems in ships but every bridge I've been in has still had someone at the helm 24/7 while the ship is in motion, with only short breaks. In theory you could tie the GPS, plotter, and radar/sonar/depth finder systems into an autopilot system that should do a bloody good job of managing, but from what little I know of mairtime law this simply is not allowed. ICBW and am happy to be corrected :)

              I think one of the bigger reasons though is that we still hold on to our independence, often fiercely. I know many [cough]"men" who won't use GPS because they don't like someone telling them what to do. I know others who won't drive automatics because of a petulant "I want to be completely in control!" (me, I prefer the feel of manual over auto but am happy for a good automatic to do the work). Sadly this idiocy is one of the reasons we don't have better uptake of public transport, and why we have so many people driving individually from the same general area to the same general area at around the same time :( (and many of them believing in "climate emergency! we must take drastic action now!" yet unwilling to give up the car and get on a bus!)

        2. MachDiamond Silver badge

          Re: @ Warm Braw

          "The fuel issue of flying cars is easy to solve, R.T.G.'s"

          You are kidding, right? RTG's suck for power density. They are large, heavy and only put out tiny bit of power per cubic meter or kg. The upside is they will put out what power they can provide for decades. The ones on the Voyager spacecraft are putting the Energizer bunny to shame. The Curiosity rover on Mars will blow out a wheel long before the power pack gives out.

          The worst thing is a RTG falling from the sky and getting scooped up by some random person that wants to see what's inside that makes it go. Really bad idea.

        3. Cynic_999 Silver badge

          Re: @ Warm Braw

          "

          The fuel issue of flying cars is easy to solve, R.T.G.'s. Make them hot-swappable, like battery packs, and the flyers could be made from oversized quadcoptery drone thingys.

          "

          Which physics will limit to a flying time measured in minutes. By the time you factor in the time to reach a battery-swap station and then park, the range left available to carry a passenger is down to a few km at best.

      5. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: @ Warm Braw

        I certainly wouldn't want to be in a flying car over Iran.

        (Too soon?)

        1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

          Re: @ Warm Braw

          Or over Macho Grande.

      6. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: @ Warm Braw

        "Finally, a flying car has the same fuel issues that rockets have. If you want to go far, you need to store more fuel, which increases weight, which uses more fuel to lift off, thereby diminishing your range. "

        And not forgetting that many if not most concept flying cars seem to be battery/electric so you don't even have the advantage of the "fuel" mass decreasing over the journey.

      7. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: @ Warm Braw

        "Airliners have to undergo expensive maintenance at regular intervals, and there's a whole infrastructure around that. Not to mention the certifications of aircraft maintenance technicians."

        But flying taxis would be disruptive so they don't have to worry about things like that.

        1. MachDiamond Silver badge

          Re: @ Warm Braw

          "But flying taxis would be disruptive so they don't have to worry about things like that."

          Doubly so if it's Uber.

  11. big_D Silver badge

    London...

    Well, it won't help in London, minimum flight height 2,500M between designated airports, AFAIK. In general it is 500M above the tallest building in the UK.

    The demos in the Emirates last year were for pilotless systems - less weight = more passengers or longer range on a single charge.

    1. big_D Silver badge

      Re: London...

      Erm feet, not metres, my bad...

    2. Annihilator

      Re: London...

      Not sure I fancy a pilotless system - I quite like my fate to be aligned with the driver's.

      1. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge

        Re: London...

        A foggy day in London Town...

        Good luck with collision avoidance

        1. Cynic_999 Silver badge

          Re: London...

          "

          A foggy day in London Town...

          Good luck with collision avoidance

          "

          Any fully automatic system (which I think mass flying cars would need to have), would be controlled via continuous radio communications giving present position, flightpath and intention. They would not be relying on anything visual.

          1. MachDiamond Silver badge

            Re: London...

            "Any fully automatic system (which I think mass flying cars would need to have), would be controlled via continuous radio communications giving present position, flightpath and intention. They would not be relying on anything visual."

            ....and you would be perfectly happy to rely on that system not being interfered with by some nation-state that has a bone to pick with Downing Street right at the moment?

            1. Kiwi Silver badge
              Pirate

              Re: London...

              ....and you would be perfectly happy to rely on that system not being interfered with by some nation-state that has a bone to pick with Downing Street right at the moment?

              Some miscreant tossing a bucket of foil confetti out the window could probably mess with things a bit as well I expect! Poke a microwave out the window (with door interlocks disabled) and turn it on? (doubt it'd have the range but hey, one can imagine... :) )

              Release some large foil-based helium or hydrogen balloons? Bring back barrage balloons!

              1. MachDiamond Silver badge

                Re: London...

                "(doubt it'd have the range but hey, one can imagine... :) )"

                1,100 watts suitably aimed is a fair whack of power.

      2. MachDiamond Silver badge

        Re: London...

        "I quite like my fate to be aligned with the driver's."

        See "Friday" by Robert Heinlein. The Company was considering replacing human pilots with cyborgs. The main character, Friday Jones, argued that she would feel safer with a human pilot since they would at least try to land the semi-ballistic craft even if the odds were not favorable where the cyborg might not care one way or the other.

  12. A.P. Veening Silver badge

    When God wants to punish a nation, he makes them invade Afghanistan.

    I needed a screen cleaner after reading that as it has a (pretty large) kernel of truth. In all of history I know of only two successful invasions of Afghanistan. The first was Alexander the Great and he didn't stick around. The second was a Mongolian nomad by the name of Temüjin, who only managed by creating a desert and calling it peace.

    1. vtcodger Silver badge

      Re: When God wants to punish a nation, he makes them invade Afghanistan.

      "we've already been in Afghanistan and we didn't like it much." Russian NATO ambassador Dmitry Rogozin when asked in 2010 about possible Russian support for NATO's efforts in Afghanistan.

  13. keith_w

    I would like to point out to Mr. Dabbs that Sir Paul McCartney is still around and performing.

  14. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge
    Pint

    Sigh!

    It appears that Dabsy has been reading some of the Electric Car forums while high on something...

    They have regular articles (in between those prasing what Elon Musk had for breakfast etc) on Electric Planes and how they will soon rule the skies with the Taxi marked being the first to fall. Mind you... they seem caught between a bit if a rock and a hard place because they also want Fully self driving cars tomorrow and are banking on Tesla to deliver it. Comments like 'sleeping on my drive' to work have been commonplace.

    all these articles seem to gloss over the fact that a PPL is needed and afaik, a CPL is needed to take paying passengers. These don't come cheap.

    Then there is the little matter of getting CAA and local authourity approval to operate the service let alone land the things in public places. Good luck with that sunshine.

    Still, it brightens up a Friday afternoon until Beer O'Clock is reached.

    Like he says, this is a perennail 'the future is' while ignoring the realities which kybosh the thing before it takes off.

    1. Cynic_999 Silver badge

      Re: Sigh!

      "

      ... all these articles seem to gloss over the fact that a PPL is needed and afaik, a CPL is needed to take paying passengers.

      "

      That's a bit like someone a hundred years ago saying that horseless carriages would never be practical because they legally require that a man waving a red flag must walk in front of them.

      A fully automatic flying vehicle will not *have* a pilot, and so no licences will be required (apart from perhaps licenced and accredited firmware).

      And of course any law can be changed to whatever the government of the time wants it to be.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Sigh!

        Really? So I can just chuck any old heap of steel through the airspace of london, and as long as I call it a "flying taxi" my total lack of any license or airspace permission is no probs.

        BRB soon, just gonna make a few million £££ quick and easy...

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Sigh!

          > Really? So I can just chuck any old heap of steel through the airspace of london

          You seem to have got the propulsion system working already - I just heard it making a whooshing noise

        2. Cynic_999 Silver badge

          Re: Sigh!

          "

          ... and as long as I call it a "flying taxi" my total lack of any license or airspace permission is no probs.

          "

          Yes, because you will be a passenger, not a driver. Your total lack of license does not stop you whizzing between terminals on a fully automated train at Gatwick.

  15. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

    Helicopters do sort of potter about though. Like the one that crashed onto a pub in Glasgow last decade.

    I think it was in the 1980s that a photo snooper caught The Sensational She-Hulk, who had temporarily joined the Fantastic Four, sunbathing on the roof of their famous New York skyscraper. When the FF (I think the Human Torch specifically, he can fly) looked for the culprit, there were dozens of helicopters. Dang.

    (To be clear, this was in a comic. #275 actually.)

    The pictures were published without her permission, alas. But, being a Hulk, she's green, but the printer assumed that the pictures weren't, so corrected the colour. Result, anonymity.

  16. LDS Silver badge
    Angel

    "two Popes"

    So it's the right time! It's one of the few times in history when you have two at once alive! Gimme my flying taxi!

    1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

      Re: "two Popes"

      Under normal circumstances there are already three, currently there are four.

      For those interested: the "other" two are Black Pope (Superior General of the Society of Jesus) and the Pope of the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria.

      1. Allan George Dyer Silver badge
        Trollface

        Re: "two Popes"

        @A.P. Veening - "currently there are four"

        But the True Pope is appointed by God, and, as I'm an atheist, there are zero. QED.

        1. Charles 9 Silver badge
          FAIL

          Re: "two Popes"

          Just because YOU don't believe in God doesn't preclude anyone else believing in God nor the actual existence.of same.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: "two Popes"

            The Pope is appointed by people who claim to have been instructed to do so by God. Since God's instructions to the Catholic Church are rather different to those he, she or gender neutral pronoun gives to other churches, we have a right to be sceptical.

            I distinctly remember being assured in my first term at university by a senior bod in CICCU that Catholics were not even Christians, so the level of disagreement is quite strong.

          2. Allan George Dyer Silver badge
            Trollface

            Re: "two Popes"

            @Charles 9 - It's not about what I, or anyone else, believes. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. There is no evidence for the existence of God, so there is no evidence for a God-appointed Pope. Zero Popes.

            (You did see my troll icon, right?)

            1. Charles 9 Silver badge

              Re: "two Popes"

              I disagree. Absence of evidence does not imply evidence of absence. At least Alan Turing proved one cannot solve the Halting Problem through classical computing by producing a paradox.

              If you want to disprove the existence of God, I expect something just as gas-tight.

              PS. No, I didn't see the Troll icon. Besides which, I get into more serious arguments about God all the time. I once went through an entire semester in a religion course in a Christian college (Presbyterian to be specific) as an agnostic, stayed an agnostic, and got an A in the course for acknowledging their case but providing my own case for maintaining my stand.

              1. Allan George Dyer Silver badge

                Re: "two Popes"

                How about Russell's Teapot? I can't prove that there is no teapot in orbit between the Earth and Mars; should I, or anyone, reorganise their life according to their belief about its existence?

                In this case, we are discussing the practical implications of the existence of one or more Popes, specifically, should their signature be required to permit Alistair's trip downtown in a flying taxi? If the Pope(s) are truly God's representative on Earth, then they have authority over everything, including flying taxis. On the other hand, an old bachelor with no aviation qualifications and dangerous views on birth control who many people say they believe was appointed by God is entirely unsuitable to be making air traffic control decisions.

                While you might want philosophical certainty, what do you do for practical decisions? Personally, I'd put myself about 6 on Dawkin's Scale ('6. De facto atheist. Very low probability, but short of zero. "I don't know for certain but I think God is very improbable, and I live my life on the assumption that he is not there."').

                1. Kiwi Silver badge
                  Pint

                  Re: "two Popes"

                  "I don't know for certain but I think God is very improbable, and I live my life on the assumption that he is not there."').

                  I think you'll be doing much better than many who claim "christian" beliefs - and seem to live either as if they believe God's not there or as if they believe He doesn't care :(

                  (Sad to admit but I know many athiests who'd make much better Christians than many christians I know! (including myself way too often)

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Coat

    In a huff

    Do I detect a Groucho reference?

    You can leave in a taxi. If you can't get a taxi, you can leave in a huff. If that's too soon, you can leave in a minute and a huff.

  18. Frumious Bandersnatch Silver badge

    So anyway, ...

    There was this Northsider trying to catch a bus in the Southside. He rolled up the the bus stop and asked an older gentleman with his characteristic twang, "What time is the next bus at?".

    "Pardon me, sir, but around here, one does not end a sentence with a preposition," replied the older gentleman.

    "Alright", he replied. "What time is the next bus at, fuckface?"

  19. HelpfulJohn Bronze badge

    Flying taxies for the peasantry, together with personal flying cars will be available only if and when the problem of peons pooping on politicians and popes from a great height can be absolutely solved.

    I'm fairly sure that's one of [perhaps peripheral and minor] reasons *airships* are also not allowed.

    1. Teiwaz Silver badge

      only if and when the problem of peons pooping on politicians and popes from a great height can be absolutely solved.

      Pope-mobile seems fairly good solution to me.

      Boris will be ordering one next - at the very least it'll stop him pocketing peoples phones.

      1. Benson's Cycle

        I would have thought his one would be the Transit with no rear windows and a mattress covered in purple velvet in the back.

        The object of the Popemobile is for the Pope to be seen. Since the election, Johnson's visibility has plummeted.

        1. cosymart
          Happy

          " Since the election, Johnson's visibility has plummeted" You state this as being a bad thing?

  20. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge
    Joke

    Licence to Kill

    "TOP SECRET: your licence to kill is approved"

    As the best place to hide a secret is in the open, with all the wanna-be secret agent hints that Dabbsy has been dropping over the years, it could be that he does indeed have a "Licence to Kill". Probably studied under Johnny English

    1. Kiwi Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: Licence to Kill

      it could be that he does indeed have a "Licence to Kill".

      Around these parts they're neither secret nor rare. Just look at our driving standards! :(

  21. steelpillow Silver badge
    Trollface

    taken for a ride

    "Your taxi will be landing outside McDonald's in approximately 57 seconds. Should you wish to divert to Starbuck's, please select the appropriate option via your smartphone app within the next 10 seconds. Takeoff for your requested destination will initiate after you have spent a minimum of $10. Should you wish future journeys to be uninterrupted, please select the premium service before booking. Enjoy being taken for a ride."

  22. More Jam

    Uber Uber, Uber Alles

    Finally living up to their name.

  23. Arctic fox
    Thumb Up

    Ryanair's plans to fit outside toilets.

    Dear Mr Dabbs, thank you for that wonderful definition of uselessness. I could not stop chuckling.

  24. Muscleguy Silver badge

    You forget Make you login on a browser since it has been 'too long since you last used this app'. As happened to me last week due to the interregnum of Xmas and New Year. Since time was of the essence I declined so my old tickets weren't there but I was going to buy a day pass anyway. But the point remains. This is apparently for 'security reasons'. Even though I never save my card details (phones being very insecure things) so whose security is being protected is a bit obtuse.

  25. ecofeco Silver badge

    We used to have a term for all this

    Vaporware.

    Have we already forgotten this perfectly descriptive word? Especially in this day and age? Now more so than ever.

  26. Milton Silver badge

    Poor old Sniffler

    Mr Dabbs is right to mention some of the vast host of impediments to air taxis, many of which also apply to drone delivery. The marketurds who keep blathering on about this will, if sufficiently challenged about the likelihood of heavy things occasionally falling on people, hospitals, playgrounds, electrical substations, busy motorways, roofs, etc etc and etc, start to talk about "airline levels of safety" ... as if we are to believe them. They appear not to understand, perhaps purposely, what is entailed in achieving such reliability and safety.

    If drone delivery or the airborne taxi is to become a thing—in the sense of routine, frequent, regular and accessible to everyone, rather than something confined to the very wealthy, or a service provided only the countryside—that implies many thousands of vehicles in cities' skies. To be cost effective it also implies high duty cycles and fast turnarounds. Who will manage the hundreds of vehicles in city airspace at any given moment? Who will ensure that the seventy four-delivery drones laden with books, kitchenware, groceries, electronics and hot food, airborne over Camden during twilight will not collide with the rotors of the eleven taxis in the air at the same time? Who will believe that the fleet of hundreds of drones, maintained by depressed, minimum-age warehouse staff worried about their next toilet break (allowed in 44 m 21 s and counting) will keep to 99.99% reliability? Because they won't, they can't, if operated under commercial exigencies. Does anybody think that a company like Uber—which won't even employ drivers—will pay for teams of expensive engineers to maintain their air taxis to the same standards as $100m airliners?

    When a car has a power failure, the worst that usually happens is that it slinks in embarrassment to the kerb. When a flying thing suffers the same, it falls very fast out of the sky. The options for gliding an air taxi or autorotating a drone to a landing over a busy city are essentially zero. Even ordinary, mainstream helicopters, maintained to very high standards, are not particularly safe compared to civil air travel.

    Even if anyone is fool enough to believe the marketurds' lies to begin with, how many crashes do you think it will take before authorities are forced to ground entire fleets? Imagine the press hysteria over a single five-kilo gift set of For Dummies crashing through the roof of a school. The liability lawyers who infest the US and are increasingly parasitising other nations will rub their hands with glee, and the compensation awarded to old Mrs Grumpleigh merely for the trauma of witnessing her pet Sniffler's tragic loss of his tail to a wayward Amazon drone, would pay for a local fleet of delivery trucks and drivers.

    When you consider what is really involved in these airborne enterprises, particularly the commercial imperatives versus the risks involved—and most especially magnified a hundredfold if operated as a mass-availability service over cities—it becomes clear that it simply is not going happen.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Poor old Sniffler

      "The liability lawyers who infest the US and are increasingly parasitising other nations will rub their hands with glee, and the compensation awarded to old Mrs Grumpleigh merely for the trauma of witnessing her pet Sniffler's tragic loss of his tail to a wayward Amazon drone, would pay for a local fleet of delivery trucks and drivers."

      With one problem. The cities are already overfull of cars. How will they get around once they get added on. I recall one of the main reasons for the rationing of taxi medallions in New York was precisely to prevent the streets getting clogged by a flood of opportunistic cabs.

    2. MachDiamond Silver badge

      Re: Poor old Sniffler

      Let's not forget the emerging new sport of intercepting these drones. Given that the service is not going to be cheap, the things they carry are going to be dear. It might even be a load of meds if you've targeted a drone coming from the chemist. Oh look, some of those little blue pills. The Mrs. will be happy tonight.

      I expect that AliExpress will have refit kits to use the main components of the drones not long after somebody starts regular air delivery service.

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re. Poor Old Sniffler

    Heh. Re, toilet breaks, this is actually a big problem as some companies are aware that these sorts of restrictions are technically illegal should they ever become public knowledge.

    The latest "trick" is to record sudden increases and use this as a way to dock wages, on the grounds that they should have phoned in sick and thus are a "risk to productivity" under some obscure section of their contract, or other nefarious methods like recording phone MAC address to catch folks using their allocated breaks to check their Facebook.

    Also used: requiring workers to submit their mobile devices for "inspection" yet not actually ever doing so. This one is 100% illegal no doubt about it, even the Police can't make you hand over a device nor the unlock code(s) for it unless you are already in custody and generally speaking you should always decline politely until you have access to legal counsel as a matter of principle.

    Didn't I recall an article about workers being *REQUIRED* to take the flu vaccine and provide written proof they have done so? Also a related article about hand washing being a big enough problem at hospitals etc that they were considering locking the doors until the alcohol gel etc has been used to reduce spread of infection despite these actually making things worse by killing off all but super-resistant bugs?

    What next, making everyone shave their hair off and wear head caps to prevent spread of C auris ?

    Pre employment screening for MRSA? (Oh wait they do this already)

    1. MachDiamond Silver badge

      Re: Re. Poor Old Sniffler

      "they were considering locking the doors until the alcohol gel etc has been used to reduce spread of infection despite these actually making things worse by killing off all but super-resistant bugs?"

      Some studies suggest that those hand sanitizers are bad because many pathogens start from benign virus' that your body will still recognize, attack and remember what to do if you see them again when they might be in a health problematic form.

      It's the same issue that crops up when you travel to a place/country you haven't been to before. Your body isn't acclimated to the local bugs, so you get "traveller's trots" or another health problem. The next time you go back, you aren't affected or to much less of a degree. If you are never exposed to anything, your immune system won't know what to do when you are.

      Good old soap and water does the trick.

  28. interested*observer

    The passengers won't be driving the bus...

    While it is entirely possible to have "licensed" pilots for these proposed Uber air taxis, I'm pretty sure Uber has no intention of making that the mode of piloting. In no small part because a pilot has such an impact on available payload that even if the pilot were paid nothing, it would still be uneconomical for them to fly people around.

    Clearly, the idea is to pilot either unmanned or autonomously. The former could include a remote pilot, the latter a computer that does the whole thing as part of an urban integrated transportation management system. In either case, what would be the purpose of doing an extensive background and identity check on passengers? The passengers would be more like prisoners of the vehicle until receiving a soft touchdown at their destination and allowed off. Sort of like a Disney ride or a ski lift. They won't be able to cause the taxi to fly into anything the automated system wishes not to.

    There are much bigger obstacles to urban air mobility than doing unneeded background checks on people beyond what is already done (valid credit card). The biggest two are the energy density of batteries and overall economics. The former is the harder problem to solve because it may not be solvable.

    1. MachDiamond Silver badge

      Re: The passengers won't be driving the bus...

      "In either case, what would be the purpose of doing an extensive background and identity check on passengers?"

      Hmmm. There are people that are happy to strap loads of explosives around their middle and saunter into a crowed public space before depressing the button. Now they could book a flight with a path that puts them over someplace highly visible before they make the penultimate choice. A flight shared with others might be something they look for too.

      1. Kiwi Silver badge
        Headmaster

        Re: The passengers won't be driving the bus...

        Now they could book a flight with a path that puts them over someplace highly visible before they make the penultimate choice.

        If pushing that button is their second-to-last choice, what's their last one going to be? :)

        1. MachDiamond Silver badge

          Re: The passengers won't be driving the bus...

          "If pushing that button is their second-to-last choice, what's their last one going to be? :)"

          The last choice will be to not push the button.

          Whereupon, their control will remotely push the button for them after he starts the video camera.

          Just like the sniper that takes out the sniper.

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2020