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Technology Science

Flying Cars Ready To Take Off 819

Ant writes "CBS News has an article, images, and a free streaming video clip of Elwood (Woody) Norris' invention of a working flying machine, AirScooter. He asked one of his test pilots to demonstrate it for 60 Minutes on a hilltop outside San Diego, California. It can fly for 2 hours at 55 mph, and go up to 10,000 feet above sea level. This week, he will receive America's top prize for invention. It's called the Lemelson-MIT award -- a half-million dollar cash prize to honor his life's work, which includes a brand new personal flying machine. Woody Norris' and others' inventions are for NASA's 'The Highway in the Sky.' It is a computer system designed to let millions of people fly whenever they please, and take off and land from wherever they please, in their very own vehicles."
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Flying Cars Ready To Take Off

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 18, 2005 @08:52AM (#12268208)
    Should say:-

    Flying cars to be made available in fifteen years time

    This is just a sickening attempt to get our hopes up.
  • Skycar (Score:5, Informative)

    by dsginter ( 104154 ) on Monday April 18, 2005 @08:52AM (#12268209)
    Moller Skycar Info [moller.com].
    • Re:Skycar (Score:3, Informative)

      by Gr8Apes ( 679165 )
      My problem with this one is that it was listed as a prototype, and the only one they had.

      I recall reading about the Moller sky car in Popular Science years ago (5? 10? 15? it was a long time ago;) except then it was a 7 engine beast able to fly 400mph, get 20 mpg with 4 passenagers, along with VTOL. I guess that was merely a paper proposal, although it wasn't presented as such.

      • Re:Skycar (Score:5, Informative)

        by Issue9mm ( 97360 ) on Monday April 18, 2005 @09:17AM (#12268432)
        Mr. Moller's been building flying cars since forever ago. I saw his cameo on "Invent This!", and he had relatively working prototypes of various models of flying cars in the 60s and 70s.

        Really, it's quite amazing what he's accomplished, and has to be the first to market on these things. I can only wonder why it's never "taken off" (pun only slightly intended.)

        I want to say I've heard him mention that being the first to market on something so "seemingly" dangerous was his downfall, but I could be misquoting.

        Interesting aside: Moller has acres and acres of pecan trees, which he eats as a staple of his diet, because he believes they slow the aging process (and he's quite old now indeed.)

        • Re:Skycar (Score:5, Funny)

          by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 18, 2005 @11:08AM (#12269575)
          > Moller has acres and acres of pecan trees, which he eats as a staple of his diet

          He should try just eating the nuts, then he wouldn't need so much space for all those trees.
      • by INetUser ( 723076 ) on Monday April 18, 2005 @10:26AM (#12269096)
        At the present rate of oil consumption, which is increasing by the way, the crude oil reserves will be exhausted in about 20 years.

        It's a physics based fact that keeping a mass, such as an air car, airborne consumes more energy than a ground based rolling car. So unless they can figure out how to make an air car run on a renewable energy source, which has less energy than oil based fuels, it'll never happen, or at best, it'll happen as the last of oil reserves are used up, and it'll use them up faster yet on top of that.

        • Although not necessarily efficient to produce, you could run the vehicle, with probably few modifications, on alcohol. ... And if you crash, you could pop open the tank for a swig to help kill the pain ...
        • by Steffan ( 126616 ) on Monday April 18, 2005 @10:47AM (#12269324)
          "It's a physics based fact that keeping a mass, such as an air car, airborne consumes more energy than a ground based rolling car"

          That would only be true for a given mass. There are diesel powered airplanes in production [diamond-air.at] that get the equivalent of 20-30 mpg (US). Compare this to a Ford Excursion or Chevy Suburban and you will see that the airplane is actually more economical in fuel usage. It may well be more economical in total energy picture, factoring in manufacturing as well.
          In addition, the DA40TDI runs on diesel. It is not currently certified to operate on biodiesel, but there is probably no technical reason it could not do so. (Yeah, yeah, the standard arguments against biodiesel like supposedly taking up all of our farmland to grow fuel, blah blah blah)
          So your blanket statement does not hold up even with present technology.
        • by AJWM ( 19027 ) on Monday April 18, 2005 @11:38AM (#12269894) Homepage
          It's a physics based fact that keeping a mass, such as an air car, airborne consumes more energy than a ground based rolling car.

          No, it isn't.

          There are far too many variables involved to make such a blanket statement: L/D ratio of the aircraft, mass, rolling resistance and air drag of the ground vehicle, terrain, speeds, stopping and starting, etc, etc.

          As an extreme example, consider what kind of gas mileage a glider gets, even counting whatever gas is used to tow (or propel, for a motor-glider) it to altitude. Compare that to an SUV with under-inflated tires. Even a (non-gliding) Cessna gets better gas mileage than an SUV (I don't recall the exact numbers of the top of my head, aircraft fuel consumption is listed in gallons (or sometimes pounds) per hour.)

          Now, something that relies on a fan instead of a wing for lift probably will have higher consumption, but you're blanket statement is simply false.
        • by Torontoman ( 829262 ) on Monday April 18, 2005 @11:41AM (#12269940)
          People have been predicting the end of oil for as long as we've known about oil... At some point it might happen but you're not the first to claim it'll 'run out in 20 yrs'. In reality, we continue to improve efficiencies in extracting oil and even ways of making oil that fundamentally challenge the historical thought that oil takes millions of years at extreme temp and pressure to produce. And, we continue to find new sources of oil. My point is, if the new sources dry up (Canada Oil Sand are a 'new' source that alone can keep the entire world supplied for decades)- If/When the 'new sources' don't materialize, we'll be working on improving extraction through efficiencis and conservation - more drastically than we are now (which isn't too drastic at all). So, Oil running out - not likely in 20 yrs even at current levels of use and extraction.
    • Re:Skycar (Score:5, Insightful)

      by djbckr ( 673156 ) on Monday April 18, 2005 @09:28AM (#12268507)
      Every 5 years or so, I see an article about this flying car, and every time I see the article it says, "It'll be available to everyone in 10 to 15 years".

      I'm quite skeptical.

    • Re:Skycar (Score:3, Insightful)

      by ptomblin ( 1378 )
      Moller is the worst snake-oil salesman in the entire history of aviation. He's been "nearly ready for production" for 20+ years now, and shows some rigged demo every time he needs a bit more investor money.
    • Re:Skycar (Score:4, Informative)

      by andrew_0812 ( 592089 ) on Monday April 18, 2005 @09:49AM (#12268664)
      Here is another company working on a flying car called SkyRider [macroindustries.com].
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 18, 2005 @08:53AM (#12268217)
    Each person having their own flying machine....can you imagine the waste of fossil fuels and danger involved? It's bad enough with cars!!
    • And people complain now about SUVs. This is just what we need, even less fuel efficient modes of transportation. These vehicles can represent a small niche market, but getting to a "highway in the sky"... forget-about-it
      • Regarding SUVs, the only people that complain about them are slashdotters. Ever take a look at the number of them on the highways lately?

        The thing that I don't get about them, is the insurance. I can hardly afford (more justify the expense) to drive a land-locked car, which is pretty safe and (at least mine) inexpensive. Just imagine an accident with one of these things. Even a fender-bender could be very dangerous because you now add the extra dimension of gravity into the mix. Just for humor's sake,
    • That's a very good point! I can only hope that parent will get modded up so that people actually get to see it ...

      It's a bit like free love: sounds good in theory, but the STDs kill the fun even before you try it ... ;)
    • by Lumpy ( 12016 ) on Monday April 18, 2005 @09:06AM (#12268331) Homepage
      you can get that now. it's called a private pilots license. unlike a drivers license it actually requires an IQ and SKILL to get and hold onto one. Hopefully in the future either a pilots license is required or they are automated so the braindead morons owning them will not be allowed to control it..

      Personally, I have held my pilots license. I let it lapse cince family has taken precedence. but I remember that going from mid-michigan to chicago meigs was a super quick jaunt in that Piper Aero... having a quick lunch in downtown chicago between classes (2 hour break) was very doable when the school had their own grass airstrip.

      • by ergo98 ( 9391 ) on Monday April 18, 2005 @09:24AM (#12268480) Homepage Journal
        unlike a drivers license it actually requires an IQ and SKILL to get and hold onto one

        Funny, I thought the two most important requirements to get a private pilot's license is MONEY and TIME.
      • Hmm. You call it a "Private Pilot's License", but all real pilots know they have a "certificate". The only "license" is for the radio in the airplane.

        And then you say "let it lapse". Your certificate is good for a lifetime, unless they take it away from you. No expiration date.

        Maybe what you meant is "let your currency lapse", by not taking the required AFR/BFR, and/or not getting a new medical certificate.

        Yeah, you probably meant all this, but as a PP-ASEL-IA with 270 hours, I can't let the termi

    • by ScentCone ( 795499 ) on Monday April 18, 2005 @09:20AM (#12268455)
      can you imagine the waste of fossil fuels

      Except, if Moller's specs are even close to right, traveling with two or three people to some harder-to-get-to places will involve using much, much less fuel than you'd use in a road vehicle, and we'd spend way less money, fuel, equipment, etc., maintaining roads into certain areas. And at 200 or 300 mph, you're getting someplace much more quickly than in a car, but with car-like gas mileage. With that time savings, you're going to see a lot of otherwise unecessary (and way, way less fuel-economic) traditional commuter flights end.

      It's not like this is the sort of thing that people would be taking to the grocery store.
      • Doing the Math (Score:4, Informative)

        by goombah99 ( 560566 ) on Monday April 18, 2005 @09:45AM (#12268634)
        I'd douby his math. From the article:

        ""Well, I've done the math. I think it's a modest number if you could sell a couple thousand, when you look at snowmobiles and quads and those things -- not cars," says Norris. "That's a big market. But if we sold say a couple thousand, $50,000 a piece, that's a billion dollars." "

        Uh no that would be 100 million dollars.

    • From the article:

      From your garage to your destination, the M400 Skycar can cruise comfortably at 350+ MPH and achieve up to 28 miles per gallon.

      I'll grant that this is probably just hype...BUT...

      Only being able to travel on roads is a major inefficiency of cars. How much gas is wasted on all those turns and curves, not to mention traffic bottlenecks, etc? They bring this issue up if you follow the link. Also, the roads have to be maintained and that uses fossil fuels as well.

      Even if this doesn't quite

      • How much gas is wasted on all those turns and curves...

        Have you watched a car/truck commercial lately? Those are advertised as features.

        That and being able to drive on top of a mountain, deep inside a jungle, doing dusty donuts in the middle of a flat desert, and so on.
      • And driving in three dimensions is ofcourse trickier than two.
        I don't see, why this is immediately true. The third dimension certainly gives two more directions for accident-avoidance maneuver, for example.
        I'll admit I wouldn't want to be an early adopter of that technology.
        Early adopters are likely to get most of the fun, though -- before the skies above get crowded and the laws get written to ban all sorts of things, which somebody died doing.
    • About the use of fuel, from http://www.moller.com/skycar/

      The Rotapower engine produces little NOx, the most difficult pollutant to eliminate. In addition, using a stratified charge combustion process greatly reduces the unburned hydrocarbons and carbon monoxide emitted....The Skycar's fuel-efficient engines and ability to run on regular automotive gasoline result in low fuel costs. The Skycar is significantly more fuel efficient in passenger miles per gallon than the tilt-rotor V22 Osprey, helicopters or
  • by meringuoid ( 568297 ) on Monday April 18, 2005 @08:53AM (#12268222)
    let millions of people fly whenever they please, and take off and land from wherever they please, in their very own vehicles

    Homeland Security will have a fit!

  • by xyronix ( 254256 ) on Monday April 18, 2005 @08:54AM (#12268227)
    I'm still waiting for my hoverboard...
    Fooget Flyin Cars!
  • public roads (Score:5, Insightful)

    by FidelCatsro ( 861135 ) <fidelcatsro AT gmail DOT com> on Monday April 18, 2005 @08:54AM (#12268233) Journal
    Im fairly sure these device wont be valid road going vehicals for a while atleast.
    I am wonder (fairly sure they will)if they will need to introduce a new license scheme for them and a whole new set of transit laws .
    The potential problems that machines like this could cause is immense if this is not as tightly regulated as standerd aircraft not to mention the cross with auto mobiles

    However if these things are avaliable for 50k from people like Mr Morris then I will definantly be rather tempted to get when if i ever have money like that laying around(Lets hope some unknown rich relative dies).
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 18, 2005 @08:55AM (#12268240)
    wonder if it looks like that hover car on the Simpsons last night... hmm...
  • Speeding ticket (Score:3, Interesting)

    by superswede ( 729509 ) on Monday April 18, 2005 @08:56AM (#12268252)
    So, will you get a speeding ticket flying 55mph on a 35mph road if you don't touch the ground?
  • by JJ ( 29711 ) on Monday April 18, 2005 @08:58AM (#12268267) Homepage Journal
    Buy one now before the air commute becomes congested as well.
  • by garcia ( 6573 ) * on Monday April 18, 2005 @08:59AM (#12268273)
    Norris says you won't need a pilot's license if you fly it under 400 feet in non-restricted air space. And he's going to sell it for $50,000.

    But the car will fly to 10k feet right and it will sell for $50k right? That means that a lot of idiots will be flying one of these things and they will have the ability to go over the 400 foot limit.

    Looks like a serious issue.
    • by Jussi K. Kojootti ( 646145 ) on Monday April 18, 2005 @09:23AM (#12268479)
      I thought this was even more frightening:
      NASA says it will draw on modern day satellites and global positioning systems to track the flying vehicles -- to prevent them from bumping into each other.
      Bumping? I know marketing people like to downplay possible problems, but calling aircraft-to-aircraft collision "bumping" is both hilarious and scary.
    • by Greyfox ( 87712 ) on Monday April 18, 2005 @01:01PM (#12270929) Homepage Journal
      Not to mention that you kind of need a pilot's license to know where the non-restricted airspace is. From what I recall (It's been a while since I dabbled) 1 mile from municipal airports and up to 25 or 30 from an international airports require you to follow direction from air traffic control. That means that among other things you have to ask permission to enter the airspace and turn if you don't get it before you cross over or are denied. Certain classes of aircraft are simply not allowed in certain classes of airspace. I know this because my hang glider instructor misunderstood the regulations and landed at the Wilmington International Airport once and had to file some "Mea Culpa it Won't Happen Again" paperwork with the FAA over it. If that'd happened AFTER 9/11 he probably would have been arrested.

      It's even worse when you're flying a powered aircraft, especially in crowded airspace. Not only are you navigating in 3 dimensions (Which actually is pretty easy to get used to) but you have to keep an eye out for other vehicles up to two or three MILES off and above or below you and follow air traffic control's instructions when they tell you to do something. Overall the amount of bullshit you have to put up with makes the occasional speed trap on the ground look pretty inviting.

      In the end, the flying car experience will be a lot different from what most people imagine. I wouldn't be surprised if the only way it would be allowed would be with a computer controlled navigation system that had no allowance for manual override. Some people might opt to move up to pilots licenses for a craft they could manually control, but that would be about the equivalent of a CB radio enthusiast moving up to a ham license -- most people won't want to and it will bring as many new restrictions as it does newfound freedom.

  • Needle hits E (Score:3, Informative)

    by justforaday ( 560408 ) on Monday April 18, 2005 @09:00AM (#12268276)
    I can't wait for the first accident report to come in because someone forget to fill it up...
  • by grqb ( 410789 ) on Monday April 18, 2005 @09:00AM (#12268278) Homepage Journal
    Damn...and I thought people were finally getting the idea that we have to conserve energy. Imagine how much oil/jet fuel that flying car would go through? It has four sets of rotary engines! I'd much rather see people driving an electric vehicle like this Reva NXG that can go 200km after a 6 hour charge [thewatt.com].
    • It could very well be more efficient for long distances if there could be a way to have it extend wings so all engine power can be directed to the rear in level flight.
      • by grqb ( 410789 )
        I don't know much about how that flying car works but if you consider the engine, it's limited by the carnot efficiency (sure carnot can get pretty big theoretical efficiencies at say, 900C) but I'd have to think that a car running off of a battery would be more efficient since the engine is MUCH smaller (I mean, that flying vehicle would need an engine much larger than any SUV on the road today) and batteries are not limited by carnot and could probably get maybe 40-50% efficiency.

        If the flying car was a

    • by selectspec ( 74651 ) on Monday April 18, 2005 @09:37AM (#12268578)
      conserve energy

      Conserving energy is an absurd notion. We need to continue to grow the per capita energy allocation. People need more energy so we can do cool things like fly around in cars. Conservation is often confused with efficiency. I'm all for making systems more productive. But to actually curb energy "consumption" is outrageous. We need to find new, safe, and more plentiful ways to produce as much energy as possible. Perhaps (if you are one of these global warming nimrods) you could argue that we need to produce less CO2. However, that is not a conservation issue - it's a pollution issue.

      The automobile has revolutionized our society - changed family life, geography, etc. The car's impact has been huge. While not everything the car has brought us has been good, on the whole, I'd say it's been worth it. While I doubt this "air-car" will take off any time soon, if it did, who knows what revolutionary impact it would have on mankind.

      This "green religion" clamping down on progress reminds me of the Church crackdowns on science during the Reformation.

      • by Digital_Quartz ( 75366 ) on Monday April 18, 2005 @11:11AM (#12269618) Homepage
        This is kind of like saying "I need to continue to grow my per day spending. I need to find new and more plentiful ways to make money. Having lots of money has change my life, where I live, etc... I'm not sure I can afford a yacht any time soon, but If could, wouldn't that be cool?"

        It's true; spending energy is fun and has many positive benefits, but at the moment our primary energy source is oil, and it isn't renewable. One day, maybe we'll have some new, safe, and more plentiful energy "income" sources, but right now we don't. When you're out of work, spending all your cash reserves is a dumb thing to do, and that's what we're doing with oil, right now. There's no "energy Visa company" we can borrow from while we're out of oil and waiting for fusion or high-altitude wind generation, either.

        It is, in fact, even worse than the cash analogy; development of new energy technologies requires energy. If we let our energy reserves drop low enough, eventually we won't have the resources required to invest in new energy technology. It's like driving down the highway, and being close to empty. It's nice that there's a gas station 40 miles up the road, but if you keep the pedal to the metal, and burn up all your gas in 20 miles, you're still fscked.
      • by Garak ( 100517 )
        I hope your joking...

        Oil production is getting to the point where supply is not meeting demand. Just last week crude oil hit record highs.

        Just go to http://news.google.ca and search for oil.

        This problem isn't going to go away but it will solve it self, oil and gas is going to be so expensive in a few years people will not be able to afford to drive to work or drive anywhere for that matter. Prices are expected to get up to $190 a barrel in the long run(before 2020). That means prices at the pump are goin
    • by Fizzl ( 209397 )

      I'd much rather see people driving an electric vehicle like this Reva NXG that can go 200km after a 6 hour charge.

      I would like to own one for short distance travels. I sincerely hope they market it with a different name in Finland thou.

      Somehow I feel I would not like to drive in a tiny, pink, electric car that is shaped like a potty. Especially with a name like Reva*.

      *) Reva is a very rude name for vagina in Finnish. very much more rude than fuck (vittu) I think.

  • by dcigary ( 221160 ) on Monday April 18, 2005 @09:01AM (#12268285) Homepage
    ....can it fold up into a briefcase after you land at work?
  • by Lumpy ( 12016 ) on Monday April 18, 2005 @09:01AM (#12268291) Homepage
    He does a good job at getting the press attention every year or so yet no real advances are made. the Moller skycar is still the same point it was 5 years ago. he still has not flown it (tied to a crane is not flying it) or anything else other than his PR stunt shows.

    Lots of promises are made but nothing solid or real is ever shown or demonstrated, it always feels like the snake oil or perpetual energy people. Look at what I did! no you cant see how it works or it actually work in real tests.

    how about he untether it and fly it across the country? Experimental aircraft licensing is really easy to get.
    • by Geoff-with-a-G ( 762688 ) on Monday April 18, 2005 @10:08AM (#12268868)
      If you can't be troubled to RTFA, at least read the summary.

      It's mostly about Norris' "AirScooter", NOT Moller's Skycar, and Norris DID demo the AirScooter, with a 60 minute flight in front of press.

      It may not be in a dealership near you yet, but it really does fly, it's not vapor.
  • A bit late (Score:3, Funny)

    by fizban ( 58094 ) <fizban@umich.edu> on Monday April 18, 2005 @09:02AM (#12268294) Homepage
    Hey, timothy, get your act together! April 1st was two weeks ago!

    Sheesh... Flying cars... As if...
  • by DrWhizBang ( 5333 ) on Monday April 18, 2005 @09:06AM (#12268328) Homepage Journal
    From TFA

    "...But if we sold say a couple thousand, $50,000 a piece, that's a billion dollars."

    If that's how this guy does math, I think I'll wait for some other manufacturer to create these things before I buy...

  • by aapold ( 753705 ) on Monday April 18, 2005 @09:09AM (#12268362) Homepage Journal
    Buy a piece of land. And wait.
  • Yeah, right (Score:3, Funny)

    by JoeD ( 12073 ) on Monday April 18, 2005 @09:10AM (#12268370) Homepage
    As though idiots on cell phones weren't bad enough on the ground...
  • by guido1 ( 108876 ) on Monday April 18, 2005 @09:15AM (#12268415)
    About this "car".

    It's a one seater.
    The driver/pilot position is open to the elements.
    It has no cargo carrying capacity (as far as I could tell.)
    Max speed 55mph, 2 hours of flight per tank.
    Skids only (no wheels), so you can't park it in a ramp/underground garage, so can't fly it to the city...

    Cool toy? H3ll yeah. If I ever win the lottery (unlikely, as I don't play it) I'll be all over one of these. Replacement for a car? Bah.
    • It's a one seater.
      The driver/pilot position is open to the elements.
      It has no cargo carrying capacity (as far as I could tell.)
      Max speed 55mph, 2 hours of flight per tank.
      Skids only (no wheels), so you can't park it in a ramp/underground garage, so can't fly it to the city...

      The first cars were much more limiting than that, I guess that is why they never "took off" :)

  • by Colin Smith ( 2679 ) on Monday April 18, 2005 @09:16AM (#12268418)
    Having looked at the thing I recommend the following:

    "AirScooter, the Segway of the air!"

  • by Bnderan ( 801928 ) on Monday April 18, 2005 @09:16AM (#12268420)
    Woody Norris' company invented a device to aim sound, something like a laser does light. There was a good article in the NY Times about it a couple years back. This Popular Science article appears to cover it as well. http://www.popsci.com/popsci/bown/article/0,16106, 388134,00.html [popsci.com]
  • by jerryasher ( 151512 ) on Monday April 18, 2005 @09:19AM (#12268445)
    Looking at the AirScooter video, and at thinking about the motorcycle handle and the lack of foot pedals, how does the pilot correct for uncommanded roll, as might occur in turbulence, or thermals, encountering wake turbulence, ...?
  • by Legion303 ( 97901 ) on Monday April 18, 2005 @09:20AM (#12268452) Homepage
    "'You get in this vehicle, there's no vibration, takes you up and what's most exciting is your kind of being lifted up from below [...]'"


    "But he thought he'd ask anyways."

    Gotta love that rigorous editing at CBS. I wasn't sure whether or not I had left Slashdot until I double-checked the address bar. Then I had to check again to make sure I hadn't wandered into a Limp Bizkit forum somewhere.
  • by illest503 ( 130569 ) on Monday April 18, 2005 @09:28AM (#12268505)
    "Well, I've done the math. I think it's a modest number if you could sell a couple thousand, when you look at snowmobiles and quads and those things -- not cars," says Norris. "That's a big market. But if we sold say a couple thousand, $50,000 a piece, that's a billion dollars." [emphasis added]

    2*10^3 * 5*10^4 = 10*10^7 = 100,000,000 != a billion

    And this guy, Woody Norris, is the chief inventor? "Self-taught"?

    I'd rather ride the bus. Or a flying car created by Woody from Cheers.
  • by ultimabaka ( 864222 ) on Monday April 18, 2005 @09:56AM (#12268712)
    So how long before I hear about a small squadron of explosives- and fuel-laden flying cars take out the Empire State Building hmm?
  • by hb253 ( 764272 ) on Monday April 18, 2005 @10:09AM (#12268880)

    Flying cars have been a Popular Science wet dream for 50 years - maybe more. Personal jet backs fall into the same category. The issues have always been more than technical.

    Flying an airplane, even a small one, is not a trivial task. The general population is incapable of taking on that kind of responsibility.

    Plus, who will fund and build landing pads or landing strips? Who will agree to the noise from the "airports" or backyard landing pads?

  • *Sure* they are... (Score:4, Informative)

    by supabeast! ( 84658 ) on Monday April 18, 2005 @10:11AM (#12268906)
    When I was a little kid I used to read all the time about these neat flying cars that were only a few years away, once the designers worked out a few kinks and the government figured out the regulatory side. As I've grown up I've continued to see these stories coming along, always promising that these guys have a new flying car that will be ready for consumers at some time right around the bend...

    It ain't happening, folks. Now and then these guys might pick up an award or snowball another big team of journalists into reporting on their work, but safe, reliable, affordable flying cars that get reasonable fuel economy aren't going to happen any time soon. And when they do, they'll be tied up in regulatory and insurance messes for years, continuing to prevent wide adoption. At the rate this stuff is moving, by the these designs are ready for the market and the market is ready, the fossil fuels needed to run them will cost so much that people won't want them, and we'll get to wait another twenty years for hydrogen-powered models to arrive.

Yes, we will be going to OSI, Mars, and Pluto, but not necessarily in that order. -- Jeffrey Honig