How Close Are We to Getting a Self-Driving or Hover Car?

“The best way to predict the future is to create it.” – Abraham Lincoln, 16th President of the United States.

In 1989,  Back to the Future Part II came out to critical acclaim with some very strong predictions. In the movie, Marty McFly and Doc travel to 2015 where there are self-tying shoes, VR video games, and hover boards. Also, the Cubs win the World Series after a 107 year drought.

Well, some of those things did happen. Nike did release self-tying shoes just like those in the movie, VR video games are more popular than ever and the Cubs did win the World Series. Just one year later than the movie’s prediction.

But how about a hover board, or those hover cars? And how’s the self-driving car that Google is creating coming along?

The Waymo self-driving car; photo from businessinsider.com
The Waymo self-driving car; photo from businessinsider.com

The latest on Google’s self-driving car has them submitting their first-ever safety report about its technology to federal regulators. Waymo, the company’s real name, released the report publicly to anyone who wants to understand their commitment to safety.

Waymo, in December 2016, took over the project from Google themselves. However, Waymo is owned by Alphabet Inc, the same company that owns…. Google.

The hover car is not being developed by an advanced company but rather by Volkswagen, the German company that introduced us to the Beetle.  In 2011, they introduced the “People’s Car Project” which allowed internet users to submit items for a VW model of the future.

The concept Ford hover car in the 1950's; photo from thegentlemanracer.com
The concept Ford hover car in the 1950’s; photo from thegentlemanracer.com

Long before the competition, Ford in the 1950’s came very close to releasing a car that floated. Due to financial constraints, the project is over.

After 119,000 submissions it came down to the three models, the music car, smart car, and the winner, the hover car. Currently, the project hasn’t gone far. In 2012, VW released a video showing the concept in China.

Concept VW hover car; photo from wordlesstech.com
Concept VW hover car; photo from wordlesstech.com

We will most likely see the self-driving car well before the hover car or board due to the cost. It’s cheaper to create a vehicle with a robot mind than trying to make one float. But your guess is good as mine.