When many people are asked to envision the future, often they involve flying cars and hover cars jetting around thanks to The Fifth Element, The Jetsons, Oblivion, Star Wars, Star Trek, and Back to the Future.
Hiroyoshi Yoshiki, Toyota managing officer, revealed at Bloomberg’s Next Big Thing Summit that they are researching an idea similar to flying cars that can allow cars to hover above the road.
It won’t be like the landspeeders in Star Wars but the goal is to reduce friction with the road by keeping the vehicle a little bit off the ground. There is no confirmation on whether or not they will actually develop a hover car that will be on the market.
Breaking Ground in Automobile Development
Unfortunately, since cars were available to the public in 1893, their basic concepts haven’t improved that much besides some new fancy features. However, Google, Tesla, Volkswagen, Fiat, and Better Place/Renault are all trying to push the envelope lately and some parts of America are pushing back.
The Volkswagen XL1 gets 300 mpg but is banned in the US because it’s too efficient. Tesla is a household name without any advertising and they aren’t allowing their Model S, which gets over 200 miles per charge, to be sold in dealerships. However, they did open up their patents to everybody on June 12, 2014, even with the Model X coming out in 2015, with hopes that people will use the research and knowledge to continue expanding on better cars.
Competing with Safety Features
What is more acceptable to other automobile companies instead of insane gas (or electric) mileage is increased safety. The concept of the hover car floating a little bit above the ground diminishes a lot of the wear and tear from the car bouncing through pot holes, kicking up sediments, or rusting from moisture splashing up.
Some things that friction does provide for cars are the ability to move forward, stop, and turn—things that might be questionable without touching the ground.
Toyota isn’t the first to dabble in hover cars though. Volkswagen’s 2012 “People’s Car Project” in China resulted in a hover car based on the ideas of many who wanted a more innovative vehicle. This hover car was inspired by the electromagnetic levitation used in trains to give it the ability to hover. It is omnidirectional and built with sensors to avoid crashes with surrounding objects while displaying information on the windshield in front.
Toyota Futuristic Cars
Toyota brought us the Prius hybrid, which revolutionized mileage in a more environmentally-friendly way with a push start button. We can now look forward to the Toyota Fuel Cell Vehicle.
Inspired by the Prius and the purity of water, the FCV uses hydrogen and fuel cell stack to emulate the cycle of nature and emit only water vapor. That means zero emissions at a 300 mile range. The low center of gravity keeps it safe on the roads as you stay mobile. With this on the horizon, maybe they will be able to bring us hover cars in the future.