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Flying Cars

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flying carFlying cars will likely be a reality in the future. At the end of this lesson, you will be able to understand the impact of this type of transport and the challenges of making it a reality. This lesson is centred around the theme of Science and Technology from the IGCSE ESL curriculum, which explores the way we use technology and science in the modern world. In this lesson, we will practice our listening and reading skills by learning how companies are planning to change the future of transportation by producing the first flying car.

Exercise 1Exercise 2Exercise 3Word ListExtension
Uber’s flying taxi initiative is edging closer to reality. The ride-sharing giant and Hyundai have unveiled a previously hinted-at flying taxi concept, the S-A1, that could ultimately handle Uber Air trips. What places in the US do they mention in the report?

Click here to view the transcript and answers.

1. San Francisco
2. Palo Alto
3. Oakland
4. Los Angeles (LA)
5. Malibu

Automakers throw the word mobility around like crazy, especially at CES but this year Hyundai decided you know what we’re gonna go one step further and create our own air taxi.

The SA1 is Hyundai’s air taxi that will transport four passengers. Now initially it’ll have a pilot but the plan is to make it autonomous because of course in the future everything will be autonomous. Uber and Hyundai have partnered together for this vehicle. This is actually the first partner that Uber had that has the manufacturing prowess of Hyundai and in the future, we’ll be able to get in this air taxi and get away from all the traffic and apparently all the regular people were trapped on the earth.

The SA1 will have a cruising speed of about a hundred and eighty miles an hour and it’ll fly within elevations about one to two thousand feet and it’ll have a range of sixty miles. You’re not gonna fly this from say LA to San Francisco but you might use it to go from maybe San Francisco to Palo Alto or to Oakland or LA to Malibu and of course that partnership with Uber means you’ll be able to book one of these things through the app.

Now when you have a lot of these in the sky which is what Uber and Hyundai and a bunch of other companies want they’re gonna come up with some safety issues. Hyundai says that because of all the propellers if one fails the other ones will pick it up. There’s a lot of redundancies built into this air taxi plus it’ll have a parachute. So if everything fails on this EV, it’s an electric then it’ll just float to the ground. Hopefully not on your house.

Now the way this thing works is it’s not like your typical drone where all the propellers are always pointed up as it’s a bit like a Harrier. Those back to propellers when you take off they are pointed down but once you get going they turn and when those turn it propels the SA1 forward. Now Hyundai and Uber have thought beyond just a flying machine they are talking about a hub there’s the S hub where these things will take off and land and to get to those they have these little autonomous pod’s.

Hyundai during its press conference said that they would like these little pods to be as iconic as San Francisco’s cable cars. I don’t know about that. I don’t know how much regional flair you can add to well a tiny metal. It looks like a pill. But it will create this sort of hub-and-spoke situation where people from this part of town can go to a hub, be an autonomous vehicle and then get in a flying machine.

That may or may not be autonomous of course, all of this is in the well far future it’s gonna be a while before these things take off literally. During its press conference, Hyundai said that they want to democratize air travel. It’s tough to see how that will work, though because these things will only hold 4 passengers. We’ve seen air taxi concepts before. What’s interesting is this is from a major automaker Hyundai has the manufacturing prowess to pull it off they build a ton of cars they might as well throw in a few air taxis. For more automotive and air-taxi coverage, be sure to subscribe to doing gadget

Finally, there is a flying car for the average driver. But the real question is whether the average driver is ready for a flying car. Terrafugia Transition is a $279,000 car-turned-airplane. It’s meant to bridge the gap between the road and the sky. Listen to the news report and answer the questions.

1. How did most people get an idea of the flying car?

2. How does one of the founders of Terrafugia describe the car?

3. What place does the company plan you land the plane?

4. Where does Tony imagine flying and driving the Transition?

5. According to Professor Wardle, What is not one of the attractions of having a flying car?

6. According to Professor Wardle, what are the challenges of the flying car?


Click here to view transcript

SONARI GLINTON, BYLINE: There’s not really anything new in the car industry. Just to give you an idea, Henry Ford started selling Model Ts in October of 1908. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office awarded Selden Day a patent for a flying or air car eight months earlier. And, since then, the idea has essentially only flown in our imaginations.


GLINTON: The ’60s futuristic cartoon, “The Jetsons,” by Hanna-Barbera put a visual on the flying car for most people. A flying car with a bubble that makes that funny sound.


GLINTON: Meet Samuel Schweighart. He’s one of the founders of Terrafugia. Terrafugia is Latin for escape the earth. The company is trying to make the flying car a reality. They call it the Transition.

SAMUEL SCHWEIGHART: Not quite fully a Jetsons car. We’re not taking off from the top of our apartment building or have a big bubble. But we think it’s the first step towards the Jetson car or towards a true flying car, however you envision it. So, we want to be known as the people that got it there. The Wright brothers of flying cars, you could say.

GLINTON: And by first step – and the Transition is genuinely a first step – it has big, fold-up wings and it vaguely looks like a car that flies.

SCHWEIGHART: Or more like an airplane that drives.

GLINTON: Now, that seems like an important distinction.

SCHWEIGHART: We think of it, first and foremost, as an aircraft. That puts us in the right mindset of both the expectations of what it does and just kind of how it looks, so it flies. You land in an airport, but it has the added capability of (unintelligible) out of the airport, you can fold the wings up and drive it on the road. It’s a street legal car. Take it home. Take it to where you’re trying to go. Take it to the store.

GLINTON: I met Schweighart on the loading dock of the Jacob Javits Center in New York, where they’ve taken the Transition to this week’s New York Auto Show. It’s amazing how people responded to the idea of a flying car.

Tony Monico(ph) was one of the teamsters on the dock. He’s done 17 auto shows. He says he can’t imagine driving or flying the Transition in New York, but maybe.

TONY MONICO: Something where you can start to fly when you’re in the desert and you just take off and go. Never seen one yet like this. This is real nice.

GLINTON: The car looks like a plane with the wings folded up. On the ground, it goes about 80 miles an hour, about 100 in the air. And at $300,000, it won’t be clogging the skies yet.

GEOFF WARDLE: Certain everybody, since they saw the Jetsons, has wondered why we haven’t got flying cars yet. And it seems like the ultimate form of freedom, a way of beating all of the traffic gridlock.

GLINTON: Geoff Wardle is a professor of advanced mobility research at the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena. That means he thinks and teaches about how we drive now and in the future. Wardle says there are some very hard design challenges that keep cars on the ground.

WARDLE: There’s a difference between a fender bender on the 405 Freeway and a fender bender at 8,000 feet.

GLINTON: Wardle says there’s an even greater challenge with infrastructure and educating people about flying.

WARDLE: Why do we want to take the problems that we have on the ground at the moment with the number of vehicles that congest our streets? Why would we want to move that problem into the sky?

GLINTON: But there’s no fun in that, is it?

WARDLE: Well, that’s a good question. It depends. You think driving in Los Angeles on the 405 at the peak hours at the moment is fun?

GLINTON: Wardle says he firmly believes there’s a lot of fun to be had here on the ground, but he says this car is a first step and a boy can dream.

Adapted from Flying car glides to reality by NPR News

Read the article.  Write words under different headings.

The flying car has been talked about for many years, but now it appears that the idea is about to become a reality.

An international company has built a two-seater plane that, at the touch of a button, converts into a car, which is perfectly suitable for driving on public roads. It has been designed so that the wings fold up automatically, and it takes just 15 seconds to switch between flying and driving. With its wings fully open and the propeller spinning, the flying car can take off from an airfield. The hope is that it will eventually take off from roads, but at the moment that is still illegal.

New technology means that the inside of the plane’s cockpit is quite similar to the inside of a car. Reaching your destination can be made easier by satellite navigation systems, and weather patterns can be displayed on a simple colour screen. The lightweight engine means that it can fly up to 500 miles without the need to refuel.

It would seem that cars which can fly make complete sense. They are quicker than conventional cars for travelling from city to city, and they can run on ordinary unleaded fuel. They have another big advantage. Flying cars are cool, like something you would see in an action film.

At the moment, however, the flying car’s wheels have not left the ground. That is not because of technical reasons or problems with the design. It is because the various road and aircraft authorities simply cannot agree on whether it is a car or a plane.

“The Government and the authorities have never thought seriously about a flying car,” says Alan Price, the president of the company that has developed it. “I wanted a car that could fly and drive, but it is difficult to find an organisation prepared to insure the vehicle against accidents.”

Nevertheless, the company hopes to produce and deliver its first flying car soon. The company already has orders for 40 of them. The majority of the potential customers are older and some are retired. They have worked hard all their lives and now they can have a flying car... a form of technology that they have been promised in films and on television since they were children. There have even been orders from some people who have no pilot’s licence but are willing to learn to fly because of the excitement of owning such a vehicle.

The flying car will cost around $200,000. “For an aeroplane, that’s a very reasonable price, but for a car, it’s quite expensive,” explains Alan Price. “But it just is not possible to make a $10,000 flying car yet.”

This latest means of transport will not become a mass-market item at any time in the near future. But in the long term, it has the potential to change the way you travel. It will become no more expensive than driving your car on the motorway. Journey times could be reduced by more than half.

So the next time you are told to fasten your seat belt, it may be to prepare for taking off.

Here are the words and phrases covered in this lesson about flying cars:

  • autonomous
  • automaker
  • capability
  • elevations
  • envision
  • flying cars
  • iconic
  • important distinction
  • infrastructure
  • lightweight engine
  • manufacturing
  • mobility
  • parachute
  • propellers
  • traffic gridlock
  • vehicles
1. Write a magazine article about flying cars being the future of transport. Include imaginary interviews with people who are for and against this.
2.  Write a letter to a friend about flying cars. Ask him/her three questions about them. Give him/her three of your opinions on them.

We add activities and exercises regularly on various themes, so why not bookmark our site, so you can come back to practice anywhere or at any time of the day.

Explore the way we use technology and science in the modern world

Here you will find exercises to practice for the reading and writing section of IGCSE ESL examination for either the core or extended papers.

Exercise 1: Read a text and answer a series of questions.

Keeping Bees in the City
Living for 200 years
Living Stone Plants
Walking to the North Pole

Exercise 2: Read a text and answer questions, testing more detailed comprehension.

Cheating in Exams
Different Shops
Different Writers
Pizza Companies
Summer Camps

Exercise 1 (Questions 1 -4) - Short answer exercises

Exercise 2 - (Question 5) Gap-filled exercises

Exercise 3 - Matching

Exercise 4 - Multiple Choice

The more words you encounter and understand, the broader your day-to-day vocabulary will become. So, our IGCSE ESL Word searches are an excellent way to help to reinforce spellings. Word puzzles require not just a good vocabulary and a knack for spelling, but the ability to think logically and strategically. In the case of puzzles like our IGCSE Crosswords, it’s crucial to spell linked words correctly to be able to complete the task.
Learning English requires not just a good vocabulary, but a strong foundation of all skills to communicate well. Here we provide activities for the IGCSE ESL for all the skills required to be successful in this examination.
Levels Links:
Learn English with our free material for different levels of English. We add exercises on grammar and vocabulary as well as whole text activities on a regular basis. In addition, we provide test practice activities for students who are preparing for the Cambridge Assessment English Main Suite as well as the English Language B for the IB Diploma. The material will also support students studying for the Cambridge Advanced courses.

We provide free resources across the full range of levels to provide the tools to communicate in English well.

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