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勇敢做夢 飛行車10年成真 (2017-03-16 IEK產業情報網 )

Humanity is magnificent because of its ability to dream, and it is an innate dream of humans to want to fly. The dream of a flying car was realized in the magical world of Harry Potter, but it has long been our fascination. With the collective effort of international tech experts, the innovative technology of flying cars is advancing rapidly. Air Taxis and the dream of flying cars may even be realized within the next decade.
As the new year begins in 2017, the dreary economy in Taiwan needs an earth-shattering, forward-looking breakthrough change. The research and development program for a flying car may serve as the driver for the economic revival. The flying car industry may cultivate yet another super leader, like TSMC, with a market value pushing one hundred billion U.S. dollars. It may also help Taiwan’s industries in reaching their target of revival within ten years.
Uber is the world's largest ride-hailing company, although it has no Taxis of its own. It is a world-leading enterprise with innovative technologies, and as such, has introduced a driverless rental car service, leading the pack in the self-driving car sector. On October 27, 2016, Uber released a white paper, in which a flying car concept named Uber Elevate is outlined. It describes the use of a small advanced aircraft for vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) with a payload of 3 to 4 people including a pilot, and which would be equipped with an autonomous flying support system. This is the foundation of a revolutionary urban flying-car transportation program that is fast, highly-efficient, low-cost, and safe.
Leading international manufacturers are taking a stand with similar positions on the excellent prospects of flying cars. There are more than ten companies investing in the R&D of flying cars, making it a tight competition. Both Boeing and Toyota have obtained patents relating to flying cars, while Airbus released a flying car blueprint, Project Vahana, where a prototype will be shipped, and a demonstration model will be launched by 2020. Google founder, Larry Page, has privately invested in two flying car start-ups, Zee.Aero and Kitty Hawk. Companies, such as E-volo, Terrafugia, and AeroMobil are all pioneers of flying cars. Currently the leader in flying car research is Terrafugia, whose conceptual product has been successfully tested, and may be seen in the market as early as 2025.
Flying car technology has achieved cross-domain convergent integration, and reached critical simultaneous breakthroughs that will drive the technology to commercialization. Flying cars will be the main fulcrum of technological revolution for the next decade; for example: flight control software systems, unmanned aerial vehicles (rotors), high-capacity batteries, high-efficiency motors, autopilot, supercomputers, artificial intelligence, folding technology (Origami), glass fiber and other lightweight technologies.
VTOL aircraft can take off, land, and hover in a manner similar to that of a helicopter. Such an aircraft is equipped with multiple rotors and a fixed-wing design, and uses batteries to provide power with quieter performance. In the future, automated technology will be added to the flying vehicle. At present, this is still a conceptual blueprint, and there are still serious hurdles to overcome and a long way to go to the actual operation of the aircraft.
The development of flying cars is trending towards small size, light weight, and low cost, so that flying cars will be a replacement choice for commuting, and not contribute to the image of "the poor running on the ground, with the rich flying above." When the technology matures, flying cars will be produced on a streamlined economic scale to significantly reduce manufacturing costs. Consumers may enjoy the excellent value of reasonably-priced flying car services, using an on-demand method, without having to pay the hefty price of owning a flying car.
Industries in Taiwan must embrace this daring dream with an ambition to promote the innovation and development of flying cars. This is a golden opportunity. The flying car industry may help to show-off Taiwan's long-term accumulated strengths in technological innovation gained in the ICT industry and its capabilities in linking automotive electronics and components, high-capacity batteries and aviation machinery components. It can further provide the opportunity to work closely with leading international companies, such as Tesla and Uber, to build an excellent ecological system for automated electric flying cars. The research and development of advanced science and technology cannot be achieved overnight, and revolutionary technologies require at least a decade’s worth of strong policy support. The next decade, that of the flying car industry, should be an exciting time.
Regulations, infrastructure and demonstration applications are major hurdles in the development of flying cars. Taiwan could research and propose the world's most advanced traffic standards for flying cars, and then lead the world in building landing pads, air rescue facilities and equipment, and other infrastructure. Taiwan should build the world's leading application demonstration ecosystem so as to become the most preferred experimental demonstration base for the leading international flying car companies.
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