The future is now. Well, more like the next 5-10 years. But the direction that the industry for flying automobiles and futuristic vehicles is headed certainly has us excited. In the last few years, companies like Terrafugia, Aeromobil, and Moller International (MLER  ) have been on the forefront of futuristic engineering. The goal of building a flying car has always been sought after, but recent technical advances in materials, GPS and navigation systems, and software have made the dream attainable. As things stand, various companies from all over the world, staffed and funded by smart, wealthy people, assert that a self-flying car that takes off and lands vertically will be in the air in mere years.

However, the situation is not totally picture-perfect. These companies are largely young and privately funded, as is expected of firms working with technology as volatile as flying cars. Zee.Aero, for instance, is one of the young Silicon Valley companies focused on building the flying vehicle of the future. They are backed personally by Larry Page (CEO of Alphabet), rather than through Google or Alphabet, and Page's involvement with Zee.Aero has largely been kept hidden from the public eye. Thus, it appears that these more ambitious and futuristic projects have yet to find footing with the tech giants. The obstacles are clear: audacious plans to put a flying car on the market are constantly delayed, typically because of safety regulations. The amount of testing required to prove that these vehicles are road-ready and safe for passengers can take ages. Just because a company has built a prototype that works, does not mean that they have built something that will be allowed for the public. With the constant delays, funding may dry out, which very well can mean the death of the company's vision.

Most of the bigger, publicly-traded firms seem to have their sights set elsewhere for now, backing projects more focused on autonomous vehicles (AV), or self-driving cars. Companies like Google (GOOGL  ), General Motors (GM  ), Apple (AAPL  ), Nvidia (NVDA  ), Tesla (TSLA  ), and others have all been investing in AV capabilities that will put them in front of competitors. Google's self-driving car, the "Koala", has been on the road for a few years now, getting people where they need to go at the push of a button. GM recently inked a billion dollar deal to acquire Cruise Automation, which makes the sensors that allow AVs to "see" around them. Apple's own autonomous electrical vehicle, project "Titan", has a team of over 1,000 employees mostly poached from the likes of Tesla, Volkswagen, and Nvidia. Nvidia itself has taken to investing heavily in the computer chips that serve as the "brain" of autonomous vehicles. And of course, the ever innovative Tesla has been pushing its Autopilot software update to Model S vehicles. Features like auto steering, lane changing, and parking are signs of what to expect in upcoming models.

The future of the automobile is an exciting one, and while the biggest players haven't necessarily backed the most daring flying projects yet, everyone's attention certainly is directed towards building the next big thing. The next 5-10 years is sure to be an incredible time.