Despite the skepticism that justly confronts any mention of a "flying car," what with the disaster that expecting people who can barely drive a car to learn to fly a personal plane would be, NASA seems pretty optimistic about the idea. In fact, they're holding a $2 million contest to entice people to design flying cars. And this isn't just an exercise, either; NASA really expects up to 45% of travel to be done by flying cars (or PAVs, Personal Air Vehicles) in the future.
Near all-weather STOL [short take-off and landing] PAVs will be able to transport people to within just a few miles of their doorstep destination at trip speeds three to four times faster than airlines or cars. NASA predicts that up to 45% of all miles traveled in the future may be in PAVs. This will relieve congestion at metropolitan hub airports and the freeways that surround them, reduce the need to build new highways and save much of the 6.8 billion gallons of fuel wasted in surface gridlock each year.
This sounds nice and all, but I'm still pretty sure regular people won't be able to fly mini-airplanes well enough for this to be any kind of safe alternative to driving. [Danger Room]