The Mischievous Nerd's Guide to World Domination
Author: Stephen Oberauer

Chapter 44
The first flight

Even for people like me, life is not always fun and games. In June, 2009, we found out that Kirsty’s uncle had a brain tumour. It was then that we took the first step to trying to make a major difference in the world by assigning 80% of the robots to cancer and HIV research. We had about 200 robots at that stage, so we still had 40 working on other projects like the completion of my flying car and building more robots. We paid normal humans to build a hospital which would be run entirely by doctor robots.

My flying car was ready by November, and the four of us took it out for its first test flight. All I needed was a 2 minute crash course in how to fly it. It was designed to be so easy to fly that a 3 year old could fly it without crashing. To avoid having to worry about where I would and wouldn’t be allowed to fly, it included a radar detector, so that it could notify the pilot when it approached a radar, and could then offer to drop to just above ground level in order to be completely undetectable.

The car could take off vertically, like a helicopter, or lift up like a plane, by accelerating and then extending wings. The first mode I wanted to try was the plane mode, because it sounded more fun. There were a few cars on the freeway that day, and I decided to wait until there was only one left, before taking off. I figured that if there was only one other car on the road, the people inside would have the thrill of seeing something completely unbelievable, while at the same time being unable to report it to a newspaper, because they would just sound silly.

The flying car looked very similar to the Batmobile, except that it was shades of red and black. With Raymond next to me, and the girls in the back seat, I pushed my foot down gently on the accelerator and allowed the most advanced engine in the world to do it’s magic. Driving 200 km/h is pretty scary, 400 km/h is insane, and at 600 you really just see a blur. After a few seconds we were up in the air. It was quite surreal. We looked down at the lonely, black Mercedes on the road and laughed, wondering what they must have been thinking. A few seconds later it looked like an ant, and a few seconds after that it was completely gone.

Our destination was the Fish River Canyon. If you’re American, you might only know of the Grand Canyon, but us Africans also have a big canyon which is in Namibia, about 750km away. The car uses solar power, which may be quite difficult to imagine unless it’s explained properly, so I’ll see if I can explain it to you. To be honest, I didn’t actually understand a lot of how it works, so I’ll tell you what I do know. The entire body of the car absorbs energy from the sun. This energy is then stored in some type of advanced battery. When the car flies, large wings fold out from the bottom of the car. These wings are made from an extremely strong and lightweight material. The wings also absorb solar power. The car uses artificial intelligence to choose the most efficient route to fly based on wind speed and direction, and sometimes simply glides on the wind to conserve energy. When it switches over to glide mode the car takes over entirely. It’s a bit like surfing, but instead of riding a wave, it rides on the wind.

Most of the first half of the trip consisted of flying around mountains. We stopped after an hour to take a break, and landed on the top of a mountain, out in the middle of nowhere. It was a sunny day, with hardly a cloud in the sky. We stretched our legs for a few minutes and then got back into the car. As we got in, the artificial intelligence in the car started speaking. It explained that from this point on the mountain it could do something which we might enjoy, calling it a ‘drop in’ manoeuvre. It suggested that we drive off the mountain and let the car fall until it nearly touches the ground. It sounded scary, but exciting at the same time. We were all very nervous about the idea, but having enjoyed bungee jumping so much, we agreed to give this a go as well.

We accelerated and fell bonnet first over the edge of the mountain. It was crazy. The side of the mountain was a blur of colours; brown, grey and gold. While we fell the wings slowly stretched out until we were flying again.

For the next hour we flew over grey mountains and golden dunes until finally reaching the Fish River Canyon. We swooped down into the canyon and followed it’s path for a few minutes until we came to rest at the highest point with an incredible view. There we got out and, sitting with our legs dangling over the edge of the cliff, indulged in cheese and salami sandwiches and ice cold drinks.

That was the first of many trips that we took in our car, but I wouldn’t want you to get too jealous, so I’ll leave those stories for another time.

 

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