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Pentagon Clears Flying-Car Project For Takeoff 90

Posted by Soulskill
from the check-with-doc-brown dept.
unassimilatible writes "DARPA has announced a 'Personal Air Vehicle Technology' project. It will 'ultimately lead to a working prototype of a military-suitable flying car — a two- or four-passenger vehicle that can "drive on roads" one minute and take off like a helicopter the next. The hybrid machine would be perfect for "urban scouting," casualty evacuation and commando-delivery missions, the agency believes.' Wired has the summary of the project." Maybe they'll take inspiration from Terrafugia's "drivable airplane."
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Pentagon Clears Flying-Car Project For Takeoff

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    This reminds me of a book I was flipping through earlier this evening at a local bookstore, Daniel Wilson's Where's My Jetpack? [amazon.com] , a "A Guide to the Amazing Science Fiction Future That Never Arrived". Popular Mechanics has been promising that a flying car is right around the corner for half a century now. It's not here, and I've given up all hope.
  • So DARPA finally hired a crazy German scientist with a foot fetish?
  • by Anonymous Coward

    With enough explosives altitude won't be a problem but distance and landing may be an issue.

    • by HTH NE1 (675604)

      With enough explosives altitude won't be a problem but distance and landing may be an issue.

      In the arena currently, there are enough explosive devices in place to do that for the current heavy, flightless vehicles. I thus presume the ability to convert to flight may be to evade these same explosives.

      Hopefully the enemy doesn't respond with thin metal clothesline technology.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      With enough explosives altitude won't be a problem but distance and landing may be an issue.

      George: If we do happen to step on a mine, Sir, what do we do?
      Edmund: Normal procedure, Lieutenant, is to jump 200 feet in the air and scatter oneself over a wide area.

  • Dream on. (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    The world will never have a flying car for the general public.

    Most of you fuckers shouldnt even be allowed to drive on the roads.

  • Will 80 mph do? (Score:5, Informative)

    by jmichaelg (148257) on Friday November 14, 2008 @08:34PM (#25767237) Journal
    Here's a real flying car [timesonline.co.uk]. At 80mph, it doesn't have the airspeed that DARPA is looking for but it does hit all the other check items and supposedly it's easy to fly.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by blueZ3 (744446)

      I love that thing...

      It's interesting that nobody thought of this (a parawing car) before, considering the big bucks honest companies like Terrafugia and shysters like Moller have spent in the last few years.

      The downside is that it's LOUD as heck, since it uses the fan for propulsion while on the ground. So it wouldn't do for something where stealthiness is a requirement. But for survivability, I'd bet on a ripstop nylon wing over steel spars and aluminum ribs any day

      • Re:Will 80 mph do? (Score:5, Informative)

        by timeOday (582209) on Friday November 14, 2008 @08:58PM (#25767385)

        The downside is that it's LOUD as heck, since it uses the fan for propulsion while on the ground.

        Apparently not:

        "The fan's static when you're driving around," says Cardozo. "The engineering challenge was getting a really reliable system that will switch power between wheels or fan."

        That is by far the coolest flying car I've ever seen. It takes off at only 35 MPH, would be relatively cheap, and looks like it would have great off-road mobility in car mode. Only problem is I couldn't find it on youtube, so I hope it's in the new Bond movie :)

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by MichaelSmith (789609)

        The downside is that it's LOUD as heck, since it uses the fan for propulsion while on the ground.

        From the times article:

        âoeThe fan's static when you're driving around,â says Cardozo. âoeThe engineering challenge was getting a really reliable system that will switch power between wheels or fan.â

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by HTH NE1 (675604)

        It's interesting that nobody thought of this (a parawing car) before

        I'm surprised he's not also adapting it to airboats [wikipedia.org] as used in Florida and Louisiana. Though I guess he gets more press coverage for "flying car" than "sea plane".

      • Re:Will 80 mph do? (Score:4, Informative)

        by mcrbids (148650) on Saturday November 15, 2008 @03:19AM (#25769105) Journal

        Except that you won't catch me flying a para-car, the disadvantages are many.

        PLUS:
        ~) it's cheap; fairly easy to implement.

        MINUS:
        ~) Parawings have a tendency to fold when you turn too sharply.
        ~) It does poorly in windy conditions.
        ~) Slow, inefficient, high drag.
        ~) Tendency to "rip".
        ~) Takeoff is difficult.
        ~) An in-flight rainstorm is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, by definition.
        ~) Poor handling in engine-out / emergency circumstances.

        I'll pass, thanks! Even as a VFR pilot, I've flown in rain many times, and at 150 MPH, it happens surprisingly quickly... I can only imagine what the power-fail glide slope is on something like this. (7:1 for a Piston Cessna, as high as 20:1 for jets, often as poor as 2:1 for an ultralight/paraglider - you sink like a STONE when the power goes out!)

    • by ockegheim (808089)

      If the traffic's at a crawl, 80mph looks pretty good.

    • Re:Will 80 mph do? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by narcberry (1328009) on Friday November 14, 2008 @09:36PM (#25767705) Journal

      Hard to evacuate soldiers in a one-person dune buggy that needs to take off horizontally with a 'shute that tangles on street rubble and powerlines.

      • by narcberry (1328009) on Friday November 14, 2008 @10:20PM (#25767941) Journal

        Oh, but I still want one.

      • You didn't even RTFA. Here I past the relevant passage:

        FROM ROAD TO AIR IN THE SKYCAR

        The driver unpacks the parafoil wing from the boot and manually deploys it from the rear of the car. He switches the transmission from road mode, which drives the wheels, to flight mode, which powers the rear fan

        The fan's thrust pushes the car forward, providing lift for the wing as the car reaches 35mph - takeoff speed. Once airborne, pedals in the footwell steer the Skycar by pulling cables that change the wing's shape

        The
  • "Maybe they'll take inspiration from Terrafugia's "drivable airplane."

    I don't think so. With Terrafugia you have to drag your wings behind you and put the thing together when you want to take off, complete with standard runway. It takes a few minutes to transition from a land vehicle to an airplane. These guys are talking about instant transition. One second you're driving on the ground and the next you are airborne.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by wjsteele (255130)

      Drag your wings behind you??? Have you even looked at their prototype?

      Before you start making stupid comments, check your facts. The Terrafugia folds it's wings vertically. They are folded electrically, so you don't have to even get out of the car. In fact, you land at an airport and before you even get off the taxi-way, the wings are folded.

      BTW... I just chatted with Carl the other day and they are getting ready to start flight testing. They're just waiting for their final signoff for their airworthy

  • by nurb432 (527695) on Friday November 14, 2008 @08:53PM (#25767363) Homepage Journal

    Where is my flying.. errr. ummm..

    Oooo shiny object to the left.

  • Hack a day has a much better looking flying car..

    http://hackaday.com/2008/11/13/flying-cars-a-reality/ [hackaday.com]

  • What about an autogyro?
    Relatively few moving parts, has good STOL capabilities and easily compacted if the blades can be folded.

  • Just let us go back to 1950. 2050 is too damned scary.

    • by f0dder (570496)
      commies & nukes are so much more pleasant. In the 50's the environment was much more polluted especially in the rust belt. People have it so much better now. But you wouldn't know it from the internets.
  • So, every few years I take a look at www.moller.com and see what's up. For the past 10 years (maybe longer), they've been 2 years away from delivering a product. It looks great. Has stats that aren't bad at all. It just doesn't exist. Hopefully Moller is less of a kook than he sounds like, and he'll enter this, get more funding, and finish off the car he's had 10,000 years in the making. I'd buy one.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      I remember reading about Moller's Skycar in Popular Science when I was a kid...about 30 years ago. It's a pretty well-documented fraud now.

  • Forgive me, I didn't follow the links.

    When I see 'DARPA', 'will ultimately lead to', 'prototype', 'would be perfect for', etc; I just sigh and consider the last few seconds to be a lost part of my life.

    I've been reading since the early '50s about the imminent personal flying craft and similar wonders in such august publications as PopSci, Popular Mechanics, etc. I grow weary.

    • Flat screens, too... (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Ungrounded Lightning (62228) on Friday November 14, 2008 @10:37PM (#25768035) Journal

      I've been reading since the early '50s about the imminent personal flying craft and similar wonders in such august publications as PopSci, Popular Mechanics, etc. I grow weary.

      Yeah.

      But I've also been reading about flat TV screens for as long, too. (They had a cute one back then: Neon switches, crosspoint matrix, electroluminescent elements at the crosspoints for scan, then transparent conductor, opaque light-controlled-resistor, and another layer of electroluminescent matterial for the screen light source. Plastic "circuit board" so you could wrap it around a pencil.)

      It took 'em half a century to get (several types of) TV quality flat screens. And they're all STILL more expensive than CRTs. (Maybe now that the LCD price fixing conspiracy is broken that will FINALLY change.)

      Ditto "dynabook". Ditto microscopic robots - some circulating in the blood stream - for microsurgery and/or immune system assist against diseases. Ditto cloned replacement teeth. Ditto age-retarding-or-reversing drugs.

      A lot of stuff is FINALLY STARTING to happen. But I've been waiting a LONG time for it. And at this rate maybe I'll get to see prototypes of some of it by the time I retire, but still won't get the benefit of playing with the toys. B-(

  • Personal automated air transport should not be that tough.

    All the components that are required to build a pilotless VTOL aircract are readily available. For example:

    • 2 seater Bell or McDonnell Douglas helicopter with a NOTAR [wikipedia.org] system.
    • Multiple redundant parachutes. Both vehicular and personal
    • GPS. Use it to fly the damn thing. Yes Im serious! If it loses signal, it can just go set down on the nearest flat bit of ground. I just don't see the software being really that big of a deal to write.

    If the cost could be b

  • I believe the flying vehicle itself is neat idea, no doubt about that. But it is another variation for airplane and helicopter and flying car is being researched by many organizations already. and must bigger challenge is not the car itself. DARPA should consider focusing its research on building infrastructure for personal flying vehicle for the mass. that means that, if necessary, all the vehicle should run autonomously and controlled and monitored solely by central computer system, much alike commercial
  • The secret is the Mr Fusion Home Energy Reactor! Just throw some banana skins and beer cans into it and you're off!

  • DARPA's mission is to prevent technological surprise for the United States and to create technological surprise for its adversaries.

    Short, simple, unambiguous. If there were awards for objective statements, this would get one. Would that all my projects were so well defined!

  • If they still can't produce a practical jetpack with extended flying time, i see this... not taking off!
  • use vtol/helicopter (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    why not just vtol or a helicopter on wheels? the propellers could fold up or down as needed or the vtol could face forward for thrust but put wheels on the vehicle.

  • Why exactly do we need to spend government money on flying cars that will most likely burn a lot more fuel than our current gas guzzlers? Because some dork in the defense department thinks the 1950's are still cool?

    Put the money into something more practical for this century - like developing an electric car that's affordable and doesn't suck.

    • by mcrbids (148650)

      Why exactly do we need to spend government money on flying cars that will most likely burn a lot more fuel than our current gas guzzlers?

      I learned to fly in a Cessna 172, a four-seat airplane built in 1976. (It's typical for airplanes to be quite old - they just fix them forever since new ones are so expensive) Despite its age, it travels about 120 MPH and burns about 9 GPH doing it. When you factor in an average 20% reduction in actual travel distance (because you fly straight from origin to destination,

  • ...terrorists will apply for driving licenses, not aircraft ones!!!

  • Pentagon Clears Flying-Car Project For Takeoff

    Why not "Flying-Car Project Starts to Gain Real Traction at Pentagon"?

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