The case of Flying Cars
One of the most significant cases of unsustainable “futurist” products is probably that of Flying Cars (but the cases of Autonomous Vehicles, or electric city cars, present the same basic problems, albeit in different scales).
Many companies are working on the Flying Cars – such vehicles are already operating as Taxis in the futurist contexts of Arab cities – which ignore the unsustainability of such products (for example, lack of quality such as affordability, compatibility of regulatory frameworks, sophistication of technologies used that can only be maintained by personnel with high skills, etc …).
The basic error in this case is typical of the application of the linear evolution mindset in a disruptive context (a context in which it would be absolutely necessary to make a radical change to solve the problems of the Consumers).
The main error in these cases is to try to solve a problem without trying to go to the root of this problem: and without intervening on the causes of a problem, it is impossible to get a real solution of it.
That is, in this specific case we are naively trying to solve the problem of unsustainable urban traffic, introducing elements that are more unsustainable than those that currently make up this context.
This happens because it is believed that by basing the products on hi-tech very advanced we can obtain a strategic advantage on competitors who do not have such sophisticated skills and structures. But in this way, paradoxically, such companies end up outside the Market.
Note that Flying cars are not in themselves unsustainable: they need a disruptive approach to be designed (see below).
In the case of the current concept of Flying Cars, one of the basic errors is to solve the problem of urban traffic congestion with them. For this reason, in a futurist Vision, there is the need to make choices such as Vertical Take-Off, and ultra-sophisticated mechanical technologies.
The problems generated by these choices – which are not taken into consideration – are:
● unsustainable material costs; both for Producers and Consumers: not only for the purchase and maintenance of the product (which has costs similar to those of a helicopter), but also for the tax costs such as insurance, flight licenses , etc …
This problem, even if the vehicle was “objectively” sustainable (which is not true), would limit its use to a very restricted segment of the public (both in terms of ownership and use in service). But the vehicle is, in itself, in all respects unattainable due to
● unsustainable social costs: think about the problems introduced in a future scenario of urban traffic, with even the lowest Flying Car component, from the point of view of safety (the damage produced to people and things in the event of an accident), of the impact environmental (noise, etc …), possibility of traffic control, etc …
Another problem that makes it unsustainable is the incompatibility of the vehicle with the current legislative framework.
The flying cars in sustainable version
The fact is that flying cars would be sustainable if they were conceived with a truly sustainable approach.
The sustainable Flyng cars would be included in the ultralight aircraft category: it is not absolutely necessary the Vertical Take-Off of the current Flying Cars if they are conceived in the probable scenario of an urban mobility based on the City Vehicles that today start to see around (see the mega-trend that will lead to a fork of the Automotive <see>). A context in which, it should be noted, the problem of the co-management of urban traffic has already been solved, since the times of. urban routes are reduced to a fraction of the current ones (and there are no more parking problems).
Vertical take-off is not necessary (substantially unsustainable): the Short take-off and landing is more than sufficient (a few tens of meters, a small lawn is needed),.
In the same way, to have efficient (but sustainable) Flying cars, the sophisticated technologies that today are inserted in them are not necessary: neither mechanical ones nor electronic ones (eg with a few dollars computer it is possible to have an instrument that assists flight effectively).
In this case, the plugin wings (there have been more vehicles of this type for decades) “parked” in micro-airports located just outside the urban centers could be used by City Vehicles to fly. In this mode the new City Vehicles become appealing even for some types of suburban travel (INNOVA has developed a concept of this product).
the cases of the Autonomous Car and the Electritic City Car
Not very different from that of Flyng Cars are cases of products much less complex, but the result of a conception is an obsolete linear innovation that is not able to solve the current problems of urban traffic, such as the Autonomous Vehicles and the Electric City Car.
The Autonomous Vehicles are just as futurist – and equally unsustainable – although they appear to be technologically much simpler than Flying Cars.
That is, the Autonomous Car (and the Autopilot of ordinary cars) have the problems of ● not yet achieved reliability of the technologies on which they are based (the Artificial Intelligence) such as to guarantee operational safety; ● incompatibility with the current regulatory framework (the owner of the scahring company or the user is responsible – this is a problem for the courts and insurance companies).
The Autonomous Cars also have the big unsustainability limit of the Electric City Car (described further on).
The problem is that in this case we pretend to rely on a machine thinking, that is to rely on decisions taken by a computer (but “the machines” are not able to correctly evaluate complex scenarios where the human beings do not follow the rules, and therefore they do unpredictable actions).
And even in this case companies do not think to develop a sustainable innovation (really useful): that is not yet developed intelligence solutions that instead propose a cruise control (auto-pilot), a “cruise support” that signals to the driver critical situations such as: ● reporting speed limits (municipalities crossed by traffic-intensive roads would spend a few dollars to equip themselves with wi-fi emitters, and cars could report the problem to the driver, or possibly automatically reduce speed, saving in fines and accidents with pedestrians – the manufacturers could put these devices in the Cars, and third parties could create devices to hook to the Bus of the car to perform this task); ● warning of not respecting the safety distance between cars (in the car there may be a rear panel that tells the car that follows its dangerous position) vedi i progetti di INNOVA “A vehicle speed limitation system based on Open Data“ // “Extra-urban bus Anti-collision System“ // “A real direct car notification system“ >
But even the Electric city cars in the current conception are an example of products developed in an unsustainable way, because they were conceived with a non-disruptive mentality. The problems in this case are:
● obsolete mindset in the conception of Vehicles: thinking of a linear evolution of cars the current City Car projects propose Vehicles incompatible with the qualities necessary for this product: they are too dangerous (for pedestrians) and bulky (for parking) for the urban traffic, they consume too much; etc … see “Automotive: beyond the Automotive” >.
● use of a tencology not yet established, and that therefore does not allow yet to make indispensable supplies (even this is a typical mistake of those who can not reason in disruptive mode, as was the mistake of Steve Jobs with the the only computer conceived by him, the Next).