Look to the sky and build flying cars not "sucky" roads, says Steve Baxter

Written on the 13 February 2018 by Ben Hall

Look to the sky and build flying cars not "sucky" roads, says Steve Baxter

Queensland's chief entrepreneur Steve Baxter has called on the government to stop pouring billions of dollars into projects that make roads "suck less" and invest now in a future where most people fly to and from work every day.

Baxter, an investor who is also one of the 'sharks' on the hit show Shark Tank, says the idea of flying cars as our main mode of transport is not far fetched, and not that far away, especially if investment money and entrepreneurial effort is redirected towards solving the problems of road infrastructure which is choking due to heavy loads.

"We have to stop building roads. We spend $4 billion to $7 billion every year in Queensland alone on building and expanding roads to make us suffer less," Baxter says.

"This is a ridiculous amount of money to basically make our road system just suck a bit less.

 "From where I live in Brisbane to where I often work, it's about 22 kilometres. That's all. But some days it takes me an hour to travel that far on the road.

"Four to six billion dollars on roads. Look up and the solution should be obvious.


"This is what we need to do. This is all about enterprise. Government does not need to spend any money. Politicians can stop spending our money. All you need to do is to get out of our way, like you should do anyway.

"Let the entrepreneurs take this one on. It will happen and it will happen quickly."

Already Uber is promising to release an "on-demand aviation network", called Uber Elevate, and there are several other companies that claim to be close to producing a prototype that's nearly ready for market including Israeli firm Urban Aeronautics, Slovakia's AeroMobil, Germany's eVolo along with aircraft giant AirBus. Uber says flying cars will happen by 2020 and it has teamed up with Bell Helicopter and together they want to launch air taxi trials over major cities including Dallas, Dubai, and Los Angeles. 

"With flying cars, that journey which takes me sometimes more than an hour, will be reduced to just minutes," Baxter says.

"This year already five new flying cars have been released. Think of them as an upscale drone that you sit in, you program in your destination and you just sit back. It takes off and lands you 23 minutes later 150 kilometres down the road.

"This will happen. Our choice is, do we have it in 10 to 15 years after Los Angeles or say New York?

"Or do we do it ourselves? And every year we delay we spend between $4 billion and $7 billion. It's ridiculous."

It's a sentiment echoed by Sebastian Thrun, the CEO of flying car company Kitty Hawk, a business backed by Alphabet Chief Executive Larry Page.

Thrun says flying cars could be in the air within five years and Kitty Hawk is gearing up for an announcement next month.

"The reality is if you look at transportation as a whole, most of it stays on the ground. And the ground is very capacity limited when you go in the air, the air is mostly free," Thrun told CNBC.

"And you are now at a point where we can make air-based transportation ... safer, faster and also more cheaper actually, environmentally friendly, than on the ground."

Thrun's vision for flying cars is that they'll be booked with a smartphone app and that nobody will actually own one. He says people will share flying cars, much like Uber. 


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Author: Ben Hall

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