Friday Links

2 thoughts on “Friday Links

  1. Hey, I am not a genius mechanical engineer like that guy who invented the gyroplane that doubles up as a car, but I do keep thinking an awful lot about personal airborne transportation systems (PATS). I’m sure many others do so too: taking off from home into the skies and landing in the office parking lot is such a cool idea! The commute will literally be a breeze! Bangalore then will be liveable once more again.
    However, I believe the biggest hurdle to this futuristic vision is air traffic control. When PATS becomes as affordable as cars, traffic congestion simply shifts from ground to the skies. Of course, there is a lot more room up there, but how are drivers/pilots to ensure that no collisions occur? Accidents will be far more fatal than on the ground. Obviously, an automated solution is desired.
    The way I see it is: I climb into my Honda Discord gyroplane in the garage of my Malleswaram (or Milpitas) home and punch a few buttons indicating my intended destination. Discord then talks to the nearest Air Traffic Control station wirelessly. ATC stations collaboratively participate in computing flight paths by applying nifty distributed algorithms which take the ‘global’ state into account. Point is that if JK at his Shantinagar (or Santa Clara) home happened to want to take off in his Toyota Canary at the same time to the same destination, then flight paths and schedules will be allocated such a way that my Discord and JK’s Canary do not make an unwanted and undesirable rendenzvous.
    Once the flight path and schedule are computed, based on the global state, the fuel in my Discord’s tank, the QoS guaranteed to me for the traffic plan I purchased etc, the ATC will communicate them back to my Discord. In due course my Discord will take off, traverse the skies, and land at the office — all by itself! There is obviously no need for me to do any piloting/driving.
    Deeper thought will show that a constraining of the problem will be required to simplify the solution. For example, landing only at ATC-authorized landing stations may be allowed. Standards maybe imposed on PATS dimensions, leading to Discord and Canary appearing to be the same looking from the ground up. Impressing babes with (the size of) one’s car will become a bit of a difficult proposition.
    Anyways, does anybody else buy into my vision? Do you think it will ever become feasible? If so, will we see it in our lifetimes?

  2. RR, I totally buy into your vision. One more person believes it too – George Lucas. In one of the planets (Naboo or its cousin Taboo), you can see all these airborne vehicles traveling in lanes in the sky like a stream of dust particles.
    To avoid much damage, each driver should be ejected on collision. This would also activate the personal flying kit attached to the body. There is a possibility of damage by hitting other ejected drivers. But then you could also hit a female, which is the only way how some sofware engineers will ever meet a female. It is a win-win situation.
    Now that they are going to hike the tolls on the bridges in the Bay Area, flying looks like a better option.

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