• Tuesday, February 27, 2024
businessday logo

BusinessDay

Let’s just leapfrog to flying cars

Let’s just leapfrog to flying cars

It was another one of those painful conversations around how Nigeria was so much better than the United Kingdom and how all the folks who were ‘japaing’ didn’t really have any sense and were not contributing to Nigeria anyway; so it was really no loss.

Between the wincing, I thought about the myriad of ways most metropolitan cities in Europe were infinitely more advanced than Lagos and the underlying technology that drove them that was invisible to the average resident.

Transport was a good example I thought. The complex marrying of tech and engineering and humans to run the intertwined network of roads, railways, air and seaports must be a wonder to behold and a constant headache to run and continuously optimise.

I tentatively landed my paratrooper on the battlefield: “what about transport?” I meekly asked. “Transport ‘ke’? Guy, are you serious? Have you not seen what they are doing with rail? In five to 10 years we will do mobile phone [sic] and leapfrog to flying cars.” Dead!

To be completely honest, I didn’t expect to find that much on flying cars but the more I thought about it, the more it made sense, especially for a city like Lagos where the main reasons for traffic have to do with the road networks and general bad behaviour of drivers.

With being in the air and all, vehicles would not be subject to the delays of having to deal with potholes and other infrastructure challenges that create pinch points throughout the road network. Also, it would be more difficult to drop individuals ‘along’ the way as we see often being done, which also contributes to the many delays and even accidents we see on a daily basis. So, as crazy as it may sound, flying cars may actually be a viable, if quite radical, solution to our transportation issues. How long could it possibly take though? Is this something that could happen on any level in our lifetime?

The time it would take to retrofit existing road networks to accommodate flying cars would depend on a number of factors, including the specific design of the flying cars, the existing infrastructure, and the funding available. However, it is estimated that it could take several years to complete the retrofit process.

One of the biggest challenges would be the need to install new infrastructure to support flying cars. This would include things like landing pads, traffic control systems, and communication networks. In addition, existing road networks would need to be modified to accommodate the increased weight and size of flying cars. This could involve widening lanes, adding shoulders, and installing new signage.

Another challenge would be the need to develop new regulations and safety standards for flying cars. This would involve a number of different government agencies, including the Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria, the Federal Road Safety Corps, and other related parties. It is likely that it would take several years to develop and implement these new regulations.

Read also: One in five cars sold in 2023 will be electric, says International Energy Agency

Despite the challenges, there is a growing interest in developing flying cars around the world. A number of companies are working on developing prototypes, and some governments are even investing in research and development. It is possible that flying cars could become a reality within the next decade.

Here are some of the challenges that need to be addressed before flying cars can become a reality:

Safety: Flying cars need to be safe to operate, both for the passengers and for people on the ground. This will require developing new safety standards and regulations.

Infrastructure: Flying cars will need to be able to take off and land in a safe and efficient manner. This will require building new infrastructure, such as landing pads and traffic control systems.

Regulation: Flying cars will need to be regulated in the same way as other types of aircraft. This will require coordination between different government agencies.

Cost: Flying cars are likely to be expensive to purchase and operate. This will limit their appeal to a small number of people.

Despite these challenges, there is a lot of potential for flying cars to revolutionise transportation. They could help to reduce traffic congestion, improve air quality, and make it easier for people to get around. It is likely that flying cars will eventually become a reality, but it may take some time before they are widely adopted.

Mordi provides insightful analysis and expert commentary on the latest trends and innovations in payments and technology. He is a former chief operating officer of Carbon (a lending fintech) and immediate past head of digital lending at Access Bank. Twitter: @epmordi