Flying Cars Will Only Be Eco-friendly If We Use Them Right

michiganflying-carmedia
An artistic rendering of an electric flying taxi mid-flight. Dave Brenner/University of Michigan School for Environment and Sustainability.

Skipping rush hour traffic by hopping in a flying taxi may seem like science fiction, but a number of corporations and startups are currently working on prototypes. In October, Cora—a company testing electric, autonomous flying cars—partnered with Air New Zealand in a step toward commercialization. And Boeing tested out their own self-driving air taxi in January. Even Uber has unveiled plans to launch a flying vehicle service by 2023.

These prototypes are electric and don’t give off any planet-warming greenhouse gases during flight, but mining and producing the electricity to charge their batteries is still an environmental cost. But the flying air taxis of the near future, which can both hover like helicopters and glide like airplanes, might be more energy efficient than you’d think—provided you carpool and only use them for long-distance travel.

That’s according to scientists at the University of Michigan, who recently considered the energy costs of these vehicles compared to ground-based cars.

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