In the 1989 film Back to the Future Part II, Marty Mcfly and Doc travel to 2015 in order to help Mcfly’s future children. It’s a great movie, maybe not as good as the first, but definitely worth seeing if you haven’t already. I won’t spoil any of the plot, but the writers do make some interesting predictions about what 2015 will look like and  its amazing that they got a lot of things right. For example, the movie features things like video conferencing, video games played using your hands, ubiquitous advertising, and cameras everywhere, all facts of modern civilization in 2015. The movie also made some predictions that we will just have to wait and see about, like the Chicago Cubs winning the world series. One particular prediction that has been gaining steam over the last couple years is the use of flying cars, and they can be seen in the video below. The writers actually did some research as to what scientists thought 2015 might look like, but screenwriter Bob Gale admitted that “We knew we weren’t going to have flying cars by the year 2015, but God we had to have those in our movie.”

This may not have been as crazy an idea as originally thought and though flying cars are not in widespread use there are several companies developing new types of flying machines that could pave the way for flying cars. One such company called Urban Aeronautics was founded by Dr Rafi Yoeli, a leading authority on VTOL (vertical take-off and landing) aircraft. After originally dreaming of creating some sort of flying sports car, Yoeli recognized that a flying rescue vehicle would be much more feasible to use and sell. He invented a flying vehicle with internal lift rotors that do not have the restrictions of helicopters. Helicopters, while sometimes effective in evacuations, cannot fit in tight spaces or crowded terrains and often require a proper helipad to land safely. This technology is called Fancraft™ and already had 37 registered patents with an additional 12 in the process. Fancraft has been used to make several models of a flying car, one of which is the “Air Mule” an unmanned rescue vehicle that has already had many successful test flights, one of which can be seen in the video below. As of 2012, the Air Mule is actually the only flying vehicle in the world that meets the NATO and IDF standards of an unmanned medical evacuation vehicle and casualty evacuation vehicle.

Fancraft technology may eventually be the basis for a commercial flying car but Yoeli claims that it will be some time before this is a realistic possibility.  For now, the cost of such an aircraft is simply too expensive for most individuals and we are years away from the regulatory infrastructure that would be necessary in order to safely have flying cars in a constricted airspace. At the present time, the Air Mule will be operated mainly by military organizations, emergency responders, police, power companies, and others. The Air Mule, and the other vehicles of Urban Aeronautics, like the X-Hawk, a similar version which requires an actual pilot, may soon drastically change evacuation procedures in urban areas. We could soon see scenarios like the one depicted in the video below, and though its not quite the 2015 Mclfy and Doc visited, flying cars are here, and they could one day save lives.