Yee The Flying Car – Imagination vs. Reality

What really made me want to write about Yee The Flying Car wasn’t the design itself, but rather the response to the design. I was first introduced to Yee on the LoveCoolest site and my initial impression was that this was an idea that some kid had thought up and made great renderings for it. Yee can fly and it’s wings fold in to act as wheels for ground travel. The back tires double in use as propellers. It’s a lofty idea right? Then I read the comments; the harsh dream killing, but very true comments.

“Jesus! Don’t they teach engineering anymore? That thing won’t fly or roll down most streets. One pothole and it’s totaled…” -Realist

“…i’ve always been under the impression that to achieve planar stability you need three points or at least two opposite points. What I mean is that, forget flying, the only way this thing is driving anywhere is by plowing the road in front. Oh wait! It’s a designer snowplow!” -Ashkelon

“Too many observations to print other than underpowered, powertrain is completely wrong, fans are too small, the wings…uh..boy…and the wing wheels…really? skateboard wheels for a vehicle?
Like the first poster, cool look, neato-mosquito, but will not fly, and as a personal observation, would not want to drive it except on flat, smooth glass.” -sheerahkahn

I thought the responses were quite intense (and almost comical) for something that was supposed to have been made in fun. Besides, don’t all products start as a basic idea that needs to be refined? Upon further investigation though, I discovered several facts that altered my outlook. Yee The Flying Car is more than just an idea by “some kid,” it was the winning award entry for Best Creative Future in the first Science & Future International Concept Car Design Contest. There were three designers involved in creating Yee: Pan JIazhi, Zhu Wenxi, and Lai Zexin. All of which, went to university majoring in Industrial Design. Based on their backgrounds, I would hazard to guess that they know their design in this state would not work. Also the rules of the competition don’t actually call for a design that would be street ready tomorrow. It’s all about predictions of our “future lifestyles” and creating  something that inspires innovation. Here are a few requirements (taken from the International Council of Societies of Industrial Design website):

  • The design should embody the theme of the contest: “The Sense of Future” and the work should be innovative and creative.
  • The design should proceed from the need of the function of the future lifestyle. The work should meet “the instruction for the concept of future lifestyle.”
  • “The instruction for the concept of future lifestyle” requires logicality  clear conception, advanced field of vision, and tight combination between car designing and future life.
  • The design should be highly finished, be in accord with major aesthetic taste, and highlight the difference with today’s cars.

I wonder how the comments would have been affected if more information had been included in the LoveCoolest article. Would functionality still be questioned? Probably, but would it have been more constructive rather than destructive? Critique is important. I, for one like to receive feedback (hint hint), but if presented the wrong way the critical information can be lost in an ocean of insults. Who benefits? Of course, there will always be persons that are nothing but negative, however should the overall lasting impression be horrible? I pose a few questions to you:  Are harsh critiques sometimes necessary? If so, when?

Yee is a “concept of the future,” but there is an actual flying car in existence today by Terrafugia called The Transition® . Engineers from MIT have developed, built, and flown an aeroautomobile that fits in your garage. It runs on standard gasoline, seats 2 passengers, and the wings contract. Watch the video.

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