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We are all so used to seeing futuristic images of cityscapes, they don’t even really shock us anymore. They’ve been common in sci-fi films for decades with bright neon lights and massive weird shaped skyscrapers everywhere…… And there is one thing that always seems to be present in these imagined scenes and that is flying cars.

But here we are in 2019 and all I see when I look out the window are the same old boring ground-based cars. Well, I am now told we may see flying cars or Electric Vertical Take Off and Landing Aircraft to give them their full name, start to appear very soon.

But what will these flying cars even look like, how will they function in amongst our current transport network? Are they going to be used for quick journeys around the city or for long distance travel? But most importantly (for this podcast anyway) what are the potential pros and cons for the environment of this technology?

We are all too aware of the environmental implications of traditional gasoline cars. In New York, for example, to offset the yearly CO2 emissions for the city from cars you would need to plant trees in an area the size of Manhattan itself. On top of this, you have the other greenhouse gases emissions such as nitrous oxides and other health-damaging particulates to contend with….alongside this we have the issues of short and long-distance air travel with aviation being the fastest growing contributor of any industry to CO2 emissions.

Could flying cars really do anything to disrupt this? Well in this episode I will try and find out because today’s guest Akshat Kasliwal was part of a team that published a paper recently titled: Role of flying cars in sustainable mobility. Knowing that flying cars are pretty much an inevitability, with big investment currently going into them, the paper attempts to comprehend how best they can fit into our transport system sustainably and to hopefully guide the space to an environmentally friendly place.

I thought interviewing someone from an academic background would help me better to see the pros and perhaps the cons rather than speaking to a company building the vehicles that are obviously going to be all for it…..in the interview we talk about how the technology has evolved, how it works and then, of course, the environmental aspects and results of the study….

The full paper is open access: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-019-09426-0

Akshat is also on Twitter: https://twitter.com/kaiserakshat