Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Where's My Flying Car?

Or even a hoverboard?
Except perhaps the jetpack, nothing quite says "retro-futurism" like the flying car. Probably the most famous is, of course, Doc Brown's DeLorean time machine from the end of Back to the Future. In Part II, we see that the source if this technology is the year 2015, when hover-tech is built into practically everything. With 2015 now less than a year away, the odds of this particular vision of the future seems increasingly remote.

In the real world, of course, there are a myriad of reasons for this. Gravity manipulation, if even possible, is still years away, and while more mundane versions of flying cars have been developed, they still run into the problem of being much harder to use than the traditional auto.

In fiction, of course, things can get much more interesting. For example, in Captain America: The First Avenger we see Howard Stark showing off a car retrofitted with "Stark Gravitic Reversion Technology", a feat all the more impressive for being achieved in 1943.

True, it doesn't last very long, but the technology seems well-developed enough to become widespread in fairly short order. That it doesn't can, I think, be explained by this later development:

Clearly, "Gravitic Reversion" is one of the things that S.H.E.I.L.D has been keeping under wraps for all these years - Lola is, I understand, based on a 1962 model Corvette, although of course the hover-conversion could have taken place at any point subsequently. Of particular interest, to me anyway, is that Lola's transition process looks and sounds a lot like the DeLorean's. It's very tempting to conflate the two, and having hover-tech be suppressed by S.H.E.I.L.D for much of the development period explains how it becomes so widespread so soon after it becomes public.

OsCorp, though promising, was
rejected for consideration.
For obvious reasons.
Of course, when they did decide to release it S.H.E.I.L.D probably still wouldn't want to admit they'd been suppressing it, so the release would probably be done through an intermediary. About a month ago there was a flurry of interest surrounding HUVrTech, which purported to be a company that had indeed developed a Back to the Future-esque hoverboard. Of course it turned out to be a prank, though one a lot of people seem to have believed (in retrospect they should have waited until today to announce it . . . then again, they probably wouldn't have had as many people believe it if they had), but their announcement - coming December 2014! - is pretty much how I would expect things to go if a shadowy conspiracy was in charge of technological development.

For now, though, flying cars and anti-gravity skateboards remain the stuff of fiction, looking forward to the day when we really aren't going to need roads.