Back to the Future 2: what did it get right about 2015?

Flying cars

Look around you, and the first thing you see on the roads are cars. Land cars, with vehicles reliant on at least two wheels, whether it be a motorcycle, truck, four-wheeled drive SUV, minivan, or just, you know, the regular car.

Where’s this so-called flying car? The DeLorean could fly, and it was 2015, so where is my flying car?


This has been a dream of inventors since well before the 80s when Back to the Future was made, and we’ve heard of prototypes as early as the 1920s, though there were concepts that seemed a little more feasible in the 1950s.

Most of the flying car concepts around seem to exist around one basic idea: it may well be seen as a car that flies, but the designs are more suggestive of an aeroplane that you can drive like a car.


That’s a fundamental difference because cars and planes are designed very differently, and roads are currently built for cars and not necessarily aircraft. Not to mention how much petrol would be required (and possibly a different kind) to get a flying car off the ground.

But they do exist — sort of — it just might take a few more decades before you see them outside of a design house.

Waste-powered engines

In the original “Back to the Future”, Doc Brown’s DeLorean needs plutonium to kickstart the 1.21 gigawatt reaction required to send the car through time, but things are a little different in the future.

When Doc Brown returns from the future — 2015 — the car has a different mode of petrol, and it’s the “Mr. Fusion Home Energy Reactor”. This little gadget allows the Doc to throw garbage in the engine which converts the waste to power, doing what the plutonium would normally do.


Back in the real 2015, we are a long way from throwing banana peels, excess beer, and anything else into an engine to make it into petrol, though electric cars, as well as hybrid motors, are beginning to provide something a little more eco-friendly than standard fossil fuel petrol.


The closest thing we probably have to a Mr. Fusion, however, comes out of the UK, where in 2010, Volkswagen worked on a special version of its Bug that relies on a petrol made of gasoline and a new “biogas”.


This biogas was the most interesting part, running on human waste, specifically sewerage.

At the time, the research suggested Volkswagen’s BioBug could run on the waste from 70 homes to take it 16,000 kilometres, though it may not have smelled particularly fantastic to drive behind.

Dehydrated food

After reading about waste-based petrol, we’re sure you’re keen to check out food, because there was a food gadget in Back to the Future 2, even if its appearance was fleeting.

At the dinner table, Marty’s mum throws a small disc of a thing in a specialty Black & Decker hydrator which turns the disc into a full 15 inch pizza after two seconds of rehydrating.



In the real 2015, we’re nowhere near being able to shrink food to such a level, and then needing to rehydrate it.

We can’t even imagine a world where that would happen, and if this were to occur, can only hazard a guess that we’d be a good 50 years from it happening, if it ever did at all.


Where we are, going, is printing.

3D printing has shown that you can actually print food, and pizza is one of them.

So is pasta, pancakes, and numerous other food items.

The technology at play isn’t quite as fast as what Back to the Future would imply, and a 3D printed pizza may not even taste as good as the real handmade thing, but it’s a similar step, even if it has forked into a different path.