Engineers Predict that Planes Will Be the New Cars
According to Australian engineers, the next generation's teenage rite of passage may not be getting a driver's license, but a pilot's license.
Dana King, a 20-year-old student at the University of Sydney studying aeronautical engineering and civil engineering project management, as well as Professor Andy Dong, Warren Centre Chair for Engineering Innovation, and Ben Morrell, Ph.D. candidate for aeronautical engineering, predict that someday in the relatively near future, we will all have access to personal flying vehicles that anyone with a driver's license can pilot along highways built in the sky.
King stated regarding this radical prediction, "When people think aerodynamics, they think only about the commercial airline industry. It's so much more than that. With my degree I can work on projects involving not just aircraft but also, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV's), helicopters.
"Aerodynamics is a secret weapon in almost every engineering field. From commercial space flights to PAV's, the push is there and the global desire for fast, cheap travel is a strong driver for our industry."
Professor Dong went so far as to claim that soon, personal flying vehicles will be commonplace to the point that our garages will no longer be on the ground: "Our built environment will start to change to accommodate aerial transport of people and goods - your garage will not be on the ground floor, especially as Australians progress towards vertical living in high-rise apartment blocks."
Dong also speculated that we will have personal aerial assistants in the near future. These assistants would potentially be able to walk dogs, keep an eye on children while parents are occupied, and help with blind navigation. Morrell believes that UAVs will play a major role in many different fields, such as search and rescue, agriculture, environmental monitoring, cinematography, and cargo delivery.
The engineers also predict that airports will become completely automated, with technology handling everything down to baggage handling, and that an unmanned robotic aircraft will be charged with monitoring the state of the environment.