I always cringe when I hear the term "flying car."
That's because anything that can fly instantly becomes an aircraft. So, the more accurate term would be "driving airplane."
This factor pretty much eliminates all the flying cars that you see in movies like The Fifth Element, Back to the Future, and the Star Wars movies, where the sky is crowded with commuting drivers.
This means that once we develop any gravity technology, it will still be applied to aircraft, and automobiles will still be automobiles.
I must agree that a machine should be deisigned for flying or driving.
Though I have had my truck go from truck to boat to airplane and back a few times.
It is good to be qualified for all of the above.
I I think we have a difference without a distinction.
Computer controlled aircraft using humans on the ground are already a reality. The next step in that area is artificial intelligence making the decisions.
If you recall in Star Wars and The Fifth Element a great deal of direct human piloting of the flying vehicle was involved, not to mention the somewhat absurd free falling capability of the average jedi knght.
My point is that the vehicles in question are not cars, they are aircraft. There never will be a "flying car," only aircraft that can travel on the ground.
Yes, they were "piloted" in the movies. But that's a reflection of the way things are now, not how they will be.
True, the Terrafugia Transition is basically a street-legal airplane, but I think the lines begin to blur when you look at vehicles whose main function is to travel on or a few inches above the surface, whose lifting surfaces are relatively small or non-existent, and/or whose control requires little or no additional training.
For example, you wouldn't call a car in a maglev train an aircraft.
And what about boats that can hover a few inches above the water or that skim across the surface with ground-effect wings? Aren't they still boats?
What about cars you can drive into the water? Would you say they are floating cars or boats with wheels?
I think calling the Moller Skycar a car makes sense:
The craft said to be currently under development, the M400, is purported to ultimately transport four people; single-seat up to six-seat variations are also planned and is described as a car since it is aimed at being a popular means of transport for anyone who can drive, incorporating automated flight controls, with the driver only inputting direction and speed required.
I recall a discussion with an FAA guy that said they're working on standards to come up with how high a vehicle can lift off the ground before it is considered to be an aircraft.
Water hovercraft are considered to be boats mainly because they don't get very high above the water and they stay over water as a rule unless it's a military beach head landing vehicle.
One standard to be used might be something like the ability to fly over a house.
We can call them whatever we like, but if the FAA calls it an aircraft, then you're going to need a pilot's license to fly it, in which case it's an aircraft.