5 Reasons We Don’t Have Flying Cars (and the Worldbuilding Takeaways)

A couple of weeks ago, I had the strange idea to write a post about why we don’t have flying cars. “Well that’s random,” I thought. “Where in the world am I going to post that?” And then the idea rattled around in my head for a couple of days and I realized I could associate worldbuilding principles to my reasons for our current lack of flying cars. So… here we are. XD

Reason #1: We Already Have Cars (Purpose)

When considering an element of your world, it’s important to think about what purpose it serves and whether it’s the best option to serve that purpose. We already have cars, which allow us to travel quickly from place to place along well-maintained highways and travel to destinations that would otherwise take days, weeks, or even months to reach. We also have airplanes, which allow us to travel longer distances in shorter amounts of time and to cross oceans. (Also boats, to the latter point.)

What purpose would flying cars serve? I can think of a couple answers to this question:

  1. They’d eliminate obstacles such as buildings, which one can’t simply drive through to take a straighter route somewhere.
  2. They’d give personal access to travel routes that cross oceans.

But are those answers enough to justify an entire new product? That could be debated.

Similar principles apply to your own worldbuilding.

Questions to consider:

  1. What is the purpose of this worldbuilding element?
  2. Are there other elements already serving this purpose?
  3. Are those elements simpler?
  4. Does this new element add significant value over alternatives?

And don’t just consider these from an author’s standpoint, but also try to think about how the inhabitants of your world would approach and react to the worldbuilding element in question.

Reason #2: Flying Cars Would Take Forever to Produce (Process)

Before we could have mass-produced flying cars, we’d have to first determine how best to make a car fly, what materials would be necessary, what safety measures to put in place, and so on. After that, we’d have to create multiple prototypes, acquire sufficient funds to consistently acquire the necessary materials for this new product, figure out how to market it effectively, etc. This process would take years.

Likewise, the process and/or history of your worldbuilding element is an important thing to think about.

Questions to consider:

  1. How old is this element?
  2. How was it created/how did it originate?
  3. How long did it take to create, if applicable?
  4. What went into its creation (materials, personnel, ideas…)?

Reason #3: Flying Cars Would Take Forever to Test (Function)

Not only would we have to create a flying car, but we’d have to create a functional and safe flying car. To reach this point would take numerous prototypes and a long series of tests, which could take months or even years before a working model was reached. And even after that, is the working model the optimal model?

Questions to consider:

  1. How does your worldbuilding element function, optimally?
  2. Does your worldbuilding element need to be tested?
  3. If so, how are tests run and who is involved in their execution?
  4. Does your element have to function optimally or only functionally?

Reason #4: It Would Be Difficult to Keep Heavy Air Travel Safe (Regulation)

Cars are easy to regulate because we have roads. Airplanes are easy to regulate because there are fewer of them. With mainstream flying cars, we’d have no roads and a billion flying cars in the sky at a time. How would we keep drivers (pilots?) safe? What sort of regulations could we put in place to enforce order?

Regulation is important in worldbuilding, even if it’s only for safety reasons.

Questions to consider:

  1. What are the potential hazards of your worldbuilding element?
  2. How could such hazards be minimized?
  3. What difficulties would your element pose when it comes to regulation?
  4. Who is responsible for regulating this element?

Reason #5: Flying Cars Would Have a Steep Learning Curve (Practicality)

Cars are complicated. Flying cars would be even more complicated, as altitude would become an added consideration and yet another thing to keep track of. Not to mention the other potential additions you’d have to make in order to keep a flying car (relatively) safe and running smoothly.

An important thing to consider with your worldbuilding elements is whether or not they’re practical (which ties in, to a degree, with point #1 and the initial purpose of your element). Sometimes, simpler is better.

Questions to consider:

  1. Is this element the simplest solution to the problem it addresses?
  2. If not, is the complexity necessary?
  3. Are ordinary people in your world going to be able to use this element (or at least the people who will ordinarily be using it)?
  4. Is there any training required in relation to this element? And if so, how much and what does it look like?

Hopefully you both enjoyed and learned something from this rather quirky post. I’d love to hear your thoughts, whether it’s on the principles put forward or on whether or not you think flying cars are a good idea. Feel free to strike up a conversation in the comments!

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10 thoughts on “5 Reasons We Don’t Have Flying Cars (and the Worldbuilding Takeaways)

  1. This is hilarious timing. I was literally just having an argument about flying cars with a friend yesterday and today I saw this. Discussion closed.

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