Toyota Files Patent for Flying Car


I remember New Year’s Eve, 1989.

I was 12 years old and at a bowling alley with my parents for some midnight bowling. I remember thinking, “I walked into this building in 1989 and will walk out of it in 1990.”


At that time, 1990 sounded far into the future. My young mind was blown by this thought. Surely, in 1990 we’d see flying cars and small, flat communication devices. I was ready. I was excited. I was hopeful.

Of course, 1990 came and went much like 1989. So did 1991, 1992, and every other year up until 2007, when we finally got that communication device I wanted so badly (thanks, Apple).

Here we are over halfway through 2015, and the flying car has yet to happen. There have been promises and concepts, but nothing even close to what the younger me expected.

Today we have news that Toyota has applied for a patent that could lead to a flying car, but is it the one for which we’ve all been waiting?

Getting our cars off the ground is exceptionally unlikely. Aside from the safety issues, there are massive logistical problems and training issues. An automaker can’t just introduce a flying car and expect people to know how to use it.

Toyota’s patent filing doesn’t seem to be the flying car we imagine when we think of flying cars. Based on the patent drawings, it appears to be a Prius with folding wings stuck to the roof.

Automotive News said,

According to the application, the wing can change shape, with one configuration for when it is stacked atop the car roof and another more aerodynamic shape for when it’s deployed for flight. When the car is in what Toyota called a “roadable mode,” additional wings can be stacked atop the first.

It’s unknown why additional wings could be stacked on top. Is this concept more like a Wright Brothers glider? Regardless, this is clearly not the kind of car a driver can get in, push a button, and lift off from the ground. It’s basically a a drivable airplane rather than a flying car.

It’s a mildly interesting concept, I suppose, but there’s no propulsion system visible in the drawing. At this point I think I’ll just resign myself to believing that true flying cars are not feasible, which is probably for the best.

You can go ahead and toss this idea, Toyota. We’re perfectly okay with keeping our cars on the ground if the flying ones are going to look like this.

Should Toyota pursue its idea for a flying car?


Used Toyota Prius

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