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Flying Car More Economical Than SUV 412

Posted by michael
from the runs-on-vapor dept.
fusion812 writes "The M400 needs 35 clear feet to take off but thanks to its 770 hp engine can whiz to 365 mph - cruise control kicks in at 326 mph - and climb at 6,400 feet per minute. You may hear it before you see it: it emits a rather noisy 65 dba at 500 feet. Interestingly, with a fuel consumption of 20 miles to the gallon on the road, it's rather more economical than a Sports Utility Vehicle (SUV) and looks positively eco-friendly compared to a Hummer."
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Flying Car More Economical Than SUV

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  • MPG not important (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jepaton (662235) on Sunday May 16, 2004 @07:05AM (#9166176)
    Moller said that today's economics give each M400 a theoretical price tag of around half a million dollars, but in volume production it could drop to $300,000 and in really large volumes to below $50,000.

    If you can afford one of these the MPG isn't going to be an issue.

    • You usually cannot afford such things when you just throw away your money...
    • Vaporware? (Score:3, Informative)

      by Ch_Omega (532549)
      I have been hearing about this particular car since late eighties, at least. I have an Arngren Electronics catalogue from 1990 that mentions the M400, and I have been hearing the exact same things about where they are in the process, etc. for the last ten years... Considering that it probably won't be available for sale in a long time yet, most people would be able to save up the cash to buy it when it's finally there. :)
  • That may be so... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by acehole (174372) on Sunday May 16, 2004 @07:08AM (#9166184) Homepage
    But the cost of the flying car would be significantly more than an SUV.

    What of the costs for learning how to drive/fly one of these things?

    I'm not really looking forward to the time where people who run out of gas/petrol simply fall out of the sky to their deaths and those on the ground.

    Would you let a cletus like character behind the wheel of one of these things?

    • by nkh (750837) <exochicken@@@gmail...com> on Sunday May 16, 2004 @07:18AM (#9166217) Journal
      for learning how to drive/fly one of these things?

      Please, you're on Slashdot, we already know how to drive flying cars! Or have I wasted all these years playing video games?
    • "Would you let a cletus like character behind the wheel of one of these things?"

      This will breathe new life into the Darwin Awards. Seriously though, we license people to drive, we also license people to fly aircraft, one would imagine that we could license people to fly these things as well. And from what I've read about it it seems that there are a lot of electronics for safety (so not going to fall out of the sky when fuel runs out) and control (stabilization mainly I guess).

      What, no 'but what if te
      • I'm sure the licensing would be much more akin to an airplane license.

        Oh, and...

        What if terrorists get a hold of these flying cars?! AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH WE'RE ALL DOOMED

        DOOMED I SAY
    • by buzzcutbuddha (113929) <maurice-slashdot ... 926es.com minus > on Sunday May 16, 2004 @07:56AM (#9166357) Homepage
      So you have to pay more to get the thing initially. Boo hoo. You can fly at 326mph to your destination and get better gas mileage. So you have save time and cash on your commute, or going wherever. Is it really that hard to see the long-term economic benefits?

      At 326mph I could get to work in 9 minutes. That alone is worth the price of admission.

      And, btw, intelligence is absolutely no indicator of someone's ability to pilot or steer or drive a machine. I've seen plenty of supposedly smart people (think of some professors you've had) that can't drive a car to save their life. And I don't think any of us are going to nominate Dale Earnhardt Jr for a Nobel Prize, but I don't question his driving skills.

      Stop being so damn elitist.
      • You can fly at 326mph to your destination and get better gas mileage.

        It has better gas mileage than an SUV on the ground. Expect that to drop off very quickly once you are in the air...

        • Re:That may be so... (Score:3, Informative)

          by Catbeller (118204)
          Um, nope. Better mileag (theoretically) in cruising flight than an SUV on the ground, per mile.

          To be fair, that's not factoring the fuel necessary to get to cruising mode if you take off in VTOL mode. That'll eat up some crude.
      • by Jeff DeMaagd (2015) on Sunday May 16, 2004 @09:26AM (#9166738) Homepage Journal
        I'm surprised that the group that rips on Infinium Labs for being the vapor that they are doesn't rip on Moller for being vapor far longer than Phantom Console.

        Skycar, IMO, is a scam. Yes, they have two "test flight" pictures, might be rigged or faked.

        Don't count on 326 MPG on 30MPG. Remember, these are vapor numbers on a flying vehicle with barely any wings at all. If it's too good to be believed...
        • I agree. Considering he has what, six or eight engines running, 30mpg sounds pretty impossible. Besides, most aviation vehicles are measured in gallons per hour and not mile per gallon because, based on wind, a gph rating would be all over the place. A gph rating is going to be fairly static.

    • Moderators this is *NOT* a +5 interesting since amost ALL of the points raised by this idiot are answered on the Moller international website [moller.com]

      Now I'm not saying that they've got everything sorted, but at least read the proposals before spouting off!

      For example, there are planned to be two paracutes on these things (so they won't "fall out of the sky when they run out of fuel"). Also you will not need a full pilots licence (so it should be cheaper), and frankly a well-trained "cletus type" is much less lik
    • Re:That may be so... (Score:4, Interesting)

      by dildatron (611498) on Sunday May 16, 2004 @09:24AM (#9166725)
      Did you know that "cletus like" characters are often better at driving than geeks like you? These are people that drive tractors, tractor trailers, dump trucks, etc. And can probably fix a whole lot more than you when things go wrong. Suck of this geek supremicist bullshit. You are not better than everyone at everything. You are better at a small subset of things.
    • by Technician (215283)
      I'm more interested in the economy they get while queued up in the landing pattern. You think the freeway is bad with 50 on and off ramps, try an arial traffic jam with only 3 or 4 off ramps (landing strips in the destination area) where the traffic can't slow down or stop.

      They won't be too popular simply because of the problem of not being able to park close to you place of employment. You get much closer to the door in your SUV.
  • Eco-friendly??? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Kwelstr (114389) on Sunday May 16, 2004 @07:10AM (#9166189)
    "it emits a rather noisy 65 dba at 500 feet. Interestingly, with a fuel consumption of 20 miles to the gallon on the road, it's rather more economical than a Sports Utility Vehicle (SUV) and looks positively eco-friendly compared to a Hummer."

    How about NOISE POLLUTION???? 65 dba at 500 feet. Yeah that's eco friendly in my book!!!
    • Not to mention the industrial, chemical and biological pollution caused by spontaneous post-crash combustion of scores of these containers packaging freshly deceased would-be amateur pilots. I'm not sure the ecological effects of dumping and incinerating tons of such canned meat product [spam.com] are well known, especially if the meat is human and the dumping is done over inhabitated areas.
      • ...and not to mention the production pollution. though suv's might be just as bad in that sense.

        however, are they still able to fly these things? just saying because I saw an article about these like 10 years ago already and it seems like a dnf project for now as well....
    • WTF? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Cthefuture (665326) on Sunday May 16, 2004 @08:19AM (#9166460)
      Am I missing something or what?

      65 dBa is quiet. Those crappy old desktop computers put out more sound than that. Most high quality cars have an interior road noise level of around 65 dBa at 60 MPH.

      Did they mean 165 dBa or something? (now that that would be loud as hell)
    • 65 decibels? (Score:3, Informative)

      by LeBlanc_Joey (756213)
      If that is 65 decibels it is NOT loud, from howstuffworks.com [howstuffworks.com] :
      • Near total silence - 0 dB
      • A whisper - 15 dB
      • Normal conversation - 60 dB
      • A lawnmower - 90 dB
      • A car horn - 110 dB
      • A rock concert or a jet engine - 120 dB
      • A gunshot or firecracker - 140 dB
  • by Anonymous Coward
    and I hope they go higher. $5 a gallon.

    You've had 2 kids you couldn't really afford, a house in suburbia you can't afford, and now you've bought a Chrysler LeBehemoth that gets .8 MPG.

    You deserve it.

  • by Black Parrot (19622) on Sunday May 16, 2004 @07:14AM (#9166203)
    IF YOU CAN READ THIS

    I'm about to land on you
  • Economic Impact (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 16, 2004 @07:16AM (#9166210)
    Pretty soon most in city travel will move towards public transportation and small aircraft will remove much of the cost of building highways and their economic cost. Really this whole thing makes a lot of sense to the government.
    • Remove the cost of building highways? Ummm...have you looked at what a good portion of the traffic is on the highways is these days?

      Trucks.

      Cargo shipping is one of the biggest reasons for the highways these days, and I really don't foresee the use of "small aircraft" as being a good replacement for the trucking industry at this time.
    • all we need is for soem nuts to decide to pack 1 full of explosives and fly it into a building.

      I'd expect instead of building highways, all the money will be going to building shielding for buildings.

  • So what? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by divine_13 (680820) on Sunday May 16, 2004 @07:19AM (#9166222) Homepage
    Well i guess that the fact of a vehicle being a bit more "economical" that others does not make it better. There are alot of other features; support, part prices, driving abilities etc.
  • Vapor (Score:3, Informative)

    by Lord Kano (13027) on Sunday May 16, 2004 @07:22AM (#9166226) Homepage Journal
    Moller and his Merlin series of personal aircraft have been on the drawing board since before most /.ers have been on the internet. I have yet to see one of them in flight.

    LK
  • Its astonishing (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Timesprout (579035) on Sunday May 16, 2004 @07:26AM (#9166246)
    That someone actually spent 200 Million dollars on a project like this. Flying cars are a cool idea but lets face it totally impractical with todays infrastructure. Also given the paranoia over security today I cant imagine the US Govt being in any great hurry to allow the masses get airbourne.

    I reckon he needs to find 400 people with more money that sense to but them as very expensive novelties to break even.
    • Flying cars are a cool idea but lets face it totally impractical with todays infrastructure.

      That's true, but the fact that it wouldn't be useful today shouldn't prevent us from developing tomorrow's technology.

    • Also given the paranoia over security today I cant imagine the US Govt being in any great hurry to allow the masses get airbourne.

      True enough. However there's plenty of small aircraft and even small jets available already. I guess only rich people should be allowed personal aircraft. I guess rich people aren't terrorists?

      • I guess only rich people should be allowed personal aircraft. I guess rich people aren't terrorists?

        So you think that lowering the financial bar for aerial terrorists is a good thing?

        I think the costs should be raised, anything that has the effect of making an attack more costly, will have some effect on reducing the frequency. Plus a botched attempt might costs as much as a successful one, making it more risky for the terrorists. That's why terrorsts prefer low-tech, low-cost weapons. There are a lot of

        • Re:Its astonishing (Score:4, Insightful)

          by BiggerIsBetter (682164) on Sunday May 16, 2004 @09:42AM (#9166814)

          So you think that lowering the financial bar for aerial terrorists is a good thing?

          I'll take that as a genuine question rather than you attempting to put words into my mouth.

          I think lowering the financial bar for personal aircraft for *anyone* is a good idea. Cheap aircraft can be had, but you're looking at some pretty old designs and hardware. Making better craft cheaper is a good thing, and can make flying safer for those that want to. The idea of raising prices to a point where only the extremely wealthy and suitably large corporations can do so smacks of elitism and "corporatism". Eg, common people shouldn't be allowed to do things, some of them might do something bad! Better only let the good (rich/white/christian/political/etc) people do those things, or only companies so we can regulate them (and because most sensible well off folks use companies as vehicles for their finances anyway).

          Personally, I like the idea of jumping in a cheap reliable plane and flying somewhere nice and remote to go camping for the weekend, but people like you would rather see me "under control" and put through security checks and 3 hour check-in queues - because that's "safer" isn't it? And as I understand it, terrorists are rather well funded already, so don't kid yourself that life will be rosy if you price anything interesting out of the Joe Public market.

          Look buddy, keep your paranoia to yourself. The US has got the largest military spend in the world and bases in everyone else's countries... but now you're getting pissy over letting some average dude fly his family around because you think someone might attack you? In a 4-seater Cessna? Uh, that's been within terrorists reach for *decades*. There's some serious introspection needed here...

        • Re:Its astonishing (Score:3, Interesting)

          by drinkypoo (153816)
          I hope you realize that the average person with slight technical skills can build an airplane if they are willing to follow instructions carefully, and for less than the price of a new car? Hell, I have a web bookmark to a book someplace that tells you how to make your own hand-laid carbon fiber aircraft. Now be realistic, if you can make your own aircraft for less than the cost of your explosives (if you're using anything interesting) what the hell would keeping complete-build units expensive accomplish? A
  • I bet it is only more economical on long distances. I am sure that one needs to burn a lot of fuels just to go to the grocery 3 kms away. Takeoffs must not be cheap, nor landing as they are probably done slowly.

    And it seam to seat only one person. Wait until you have the family size comming out (if ever).

    I never believed in this flying car running on conventional engine. For a flying car to be practical, we would need a revolutionary engine, something like an "anti-gravity" engine that runs cheap. So
  • Even if Moller can ever get this thing working (very, very doubtful based on the man and the machine's history thus far), the physics involved in a purely vectored-thrust/powered lift flying machine, make it the potentially most dangerous and unstable aircraft you can ever have. Unless all thrust generating and vectoring parts are always working perfectly 100% of the time, the machine will be completely uncontrollable. Think of Neil Armstrong's experience with the "flying bedstead" [nasa.gov] here. Heck, even a helic
    • by Catbeller (118204) on Sunday May 16, 2004 @09:07AM (#9166659) Homepage
      I have this suspicion that most people posting don't understand that the Skycar can glide. It's a plane. With wings. Control surfaces. It has eight wankel engines producing vented thrust coordinated by redundant controllers. Most of the flying chores are automagically smoothed out by the flight computers.

      It can fly like any normal plane with only two of the eight engines operational. It doesn't have to VTOL; it can take off or land in the normal fashion. Since the engines are not mechanically linked in the normal sense, it would take a catastrophic failure to lose more than a few engines. You might lose the near-VTOL capability, but a pilot could land a troubled Moeller with less trouble than your average Cessna, theoretically. The power and control systems are far more redundant in a Moeller.

      It's not a flying saucer. You might be confusing the Skycar with the "flying saucer" hovering testbed he made +-30 years ago?

      If I'm not mistaken, the craft also has a 'chute that fires in an emergency. Or would, if someone would fund the poor man enough to build the full-scale prototype.

      Anyone flying the Moeller would have to be a licensed pilot; this would cut down the "oops" factor.

      Moeller has spent a lifetime thinking the engineering matters through. I wish he and Burt Rutan would have lunch sometime.
  • video link (Score:5, Informative)

    by mm0mm (687212) on Sunday May 16, 2004 @07:33AM (#9166279)
    details of M400 here [moller.com].

    the site has video/media [moller.com] page as well, in which you can see noisy hover test [moller.com].

    I don't mean to be cynic, but I couldn't help wondering what practical use this vehicle may have. with two passengers maximum, this looks to me like fancy miata of aircraft. maybe this can become California governor's commuter vehicle, but I don't want to see dozens of these flying around above my neighborhood.

    • Re:video link (Score:3, Informative)

      by Slashamatic (553801)
      The M400 can carry 4 people, you linked to the M200 (which has actually been flight tested). The concept of the Sky-Car requires some serious infrastructure (being researched by NASA) allowing much of the control to be asserted by specialist traffic systems, resulting in the so-called "Highways in the Sky".
  • by BalloonMan (64687) on Sunday May 16, 2004 @07:34AM (#9166283) Homepage Journal
    If you get tired of waiting for flying cars, try some "life extending" organic almond butter [moller.com] from the good Dr. Moller.
  • CopyCat. (Score:2, Informative)

    by JohnGlenn (147738)
    He's about 50 years too late!

    http://www.museumofflight.org/collections/craftdis play.html?ID=3 [slashdot.org]
  • ...when you can have both in one! Flying SUV's! The noise pollution of the flying car and the gas-guzzling capacity of a Mac truck.

    Seriously, how long do you think it will be before one of these is invented? With the American consumer market interested in style and power over economic- and environmentally-safe auto's, I'm guessing about three days after a smaller version of the flying car is available.

  • by Epistax (544591) <epistax@NoSPam.gmail.com> on Sunday May 16, 2004 @07:40AM (#9166309) Journal
    I was under the impression that a tanker exploding was more environmentally friendly than an SUV. Better mileage too.
  • A vehicle made out of vapor should get damned impressive gas mileage.

    So it gets 20mpg on the ground. How is that significant?
    The damn thing doesn't exist yet
    What's it's gas mileage in the air? After all....that the point of this thing.

    Moller has been shilling people for years over this thing.

    It would be damn expensive
    It would still require a pilots license
    It would still require an airport and runway to land. Unless of course he has the navigation and control system down to sub-1 meter accuracy. hahaha
    D
    • Moller's taken on a tough job, trying to design and build a safe and affordable flying car, and he may not succeed, but by the gods and their pet demons it's terribly churlish of you to call this man's vision "shilling people for years".

      He's built it, It's flown, it's not a product yet but it's not bleeding "vapor".
  • Plaguarism (Score:2, Insightful)

    by JoeyLemur (10451)
    Nice plaguarism with submitting that story... not even a mention of The Register [theregister.co.uk], who had that text word for word [theregister.co.uk].
  • by Jonas the Bold (701271) on Sunday May 16, 2004 @07:48AM (#9166334)
    The point is how much SUVs suck. There is no excuse for having worse fuel efficiancy than a fucking airplane.
  • by Bender Unit 22 (216955) on Sunday May 16, 2004 @07:50AM (#9166338) Journal
    I do(or rather, I would if a shortage of money was an issue), because due to local taxes created by enviromental nuts in the goverment, I pay over twice as much as people in the US for my fuel.
    But if the prices were on the same level, I wouldn't give a xxxx.
    But then again, I might. Because then I would buy a much larger and less economic car than I would need which would use twice the amount of fuel and I would be in the same situation again. :D

    btw, the same enviromental nuts had put a 200% tax on cars so I bought a car from 1987 for 2500$.
    I do plan ,however, that my next car should be one that can run on unleaded fuel and have a catalysator. Maybe even have a few safty features such as airbags etc.
    But I'd be dammed if I want to spend 30000$ just to buy a 90hp compact(3 door hatchback type).

    So where am I going with all this? Well raising price on a item, gas, heating, electricity will make people try to save it, but at a certain level it just backfires. High prices on heating are another example. Small suburbs has shown to have the same low quality of air as the smog plaqued big city, due to the homeowners installing a wood furnace to save money on heating. The problem is that what they are buring in them and the way they are doing it are causing a lot of bad particles to be released.
  • Buy one here [moller.com]

    Anyone got a spare $100,000 for the deposit?

  • I've been waiting for my flying car since the 1950s!
    And now they're finally here!

  • Reality Check (Score:4, Insightful)

    by xyote (598794) on Sunday May 16, 2004 @08:32AM (#9166508)
    Flying as a mode of transportation only works because there are relatively few aircraft in the air so they can be kept really far apart, and the pilots are well trained.

    It is repeatedly demonstrated every single day that ordinary drivers cannot handle 1 dimension in driving, let alone 2 dimensions such as intersections and multi lane roads. 3 dimensions is completely out of the question. Are you totally insane?
    • Re:Reality Check (Score:3, Informative)

      The FAA only requires that aircraft fly 500 feet apart from one another, unless they are in formation. Add to that, the fact that there is sooooo much sky out there and you have a lot of room. The only real congestion in the air right now is above major airport hubs and even that is very manageable. However, you are correct that improvements need to be made. It is difficult to orient yourself over 3 axis, so NASA and several other groups have been working on a new navigation system which would creat
  • ... a fuel consumption of 20 miles to the gallon on the road ...

    Wonder what the effective mileage would be if adjusted for the resulting reduced wear-and-tear on that road.

  • Sport Pilots License (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Sergeant Beavis (558225) on Sunday May 16, 2004 @10:01AM (#9166942) Homepage
    While I find the M400 very interesting, I think the future of aviation will be affected to a much greater degree by the proposed regulations for pilot licensing.

    The FAA has proposed new rule for what will be called a Sport Pilots License. The rules should be approved this summer and it will make it much easier for anyone to become a pilot. For one, you won't have to take an expensive physical any longer.

    However, there are a lot of restrictions on someone with an SPL. You can't fly an aircraft that has a gross takeoff weight higher than 1232lbs. You can only fly under Visual Flight Rules (VFR) conditions and you cannot fly any faster than 132MPH.

    Because flight training takes place in the less expensive Light Sport Aircraft class (LSA) flight training should be less expensive. Also, a prospective SPL student only needs to fly 20 hours to get their license. Normally, you have to fly at least 40 hours.

    Personally, I can't wait.

    If you want to learn more about it, goto www.sportpilot.org [sportpilot.org]

If the facts don't fit the theory, change the facts. -- Albert Einstein

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