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Transportation Technology

It's Not a Flying Car - It's a Drivable Airplane 243

waderoush writes "Aviation enthusiasts have been dreaming of flying cars since the 1940s. But in an old machine shop in Woburn, MA, a team of MIT aero/astro grads is building what could be the first practical airplane that's also certified for highway driving. Angel-funded startup Terrafugia, headed by 2006 Lemelson-MIT Student Prize winner Carl Dietrich, hopes to have its first full-scale proof-of-concept vehicle ready to show off at July's AirVenture aviation festival in Oshkosh, Wisconsin."
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It's Not a Flying Car - It's a Drivable Airplane

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  • Stupid idea (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Reason58 ( 775044 ) on Thursday May 08, 2008 @01:13PM (#23339796)
    Look at the accident and fatality rates with the masses and regular cars. I can't imagine how many deaths this would cause worldwide. A flying car is great in cheesy novels and movies, but horrible in reality.
    • Re:Stupid idea (Score:5, Insightful)

      by NewbieProgrammerMan ( 558327 ) on Thursday May 08, 2008 @01:20PM (#23339920)
      Somehow I doubt the various aviation authorities (FAA and its equivalents outside the US) are going to start blindly issuing pilot certificates to people just because they have a driver's license and a flying car.

      For places with no aviation authorities, yeah, they'll probably see their share of car-planes landing/falling in interesting places because some moron was trying to shave, drink his coffee, and check his email while flying to work. But those places will be few and far between.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by trentfoley ( 226635 )
        I agree in principle, but...

        most anyone that has to:

        a) Go to work
        b) Check email on the way
        c) Shave
        d) Satisfy caffeine addiction

        is most likely living in a region that does have an aviation authority.
        • Good point. :) So instead of shaving and checking email, they'll be "landing" in interesting places because they said the local equivalent of "Hey, y'all, watch this!" before they took off.

          Of course, they probably do that now with any number of things, so the flying car would just be a newer, more expensive route to a Darwin Award. :P
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by value_added ( 719364 )
        For places with no aviation authorities, yeah, they'll probably see their share of car-planes landing/falling in interesting places because some moron ...

        Maybe someone familiar with the safety statistics for single engine planes can chime in, but here in California it's not at all uncommon to read about planes crashing into people's homes and backyards.
        • Re:Stupid idea (Score:5, Informative)

          by TooMuchToDo ( 882796 ) on Thursday May 08, 2008 @01:43PM (#23340306)
          As a recreation/part-time-for-fun pilot, I'm chiming in:

          http://www.aopa.org/whatsnew/trend.html [aopa.org]

          Fourth quarter, 2007

          The number of general aviation accidents was down slightly (2 percent) for the fourth quarter. In year-to-date comparisons, general aviation accidents saw an increase as compared to 2006 figures (6 percent).

          General Aviation Accidents

          According to the FAA, there were a total of 315 general aviation accidents in the fourth quarter of 2007 (down 2 percent from 2006). This figure is the lowest total for the fourth quarter. Accidents for the past several months showed a continued improvement of the GA safety record. Year-end comparisons show a 6-percent increase in general aviation accidents (1,607 in 2007 vs. 1,518 in 2006).

          • Re:Stupid idea (Score:5, Insightful)

            by Free the Cowards ( 1280296 ) on Thursday May 08, 2008 @01:53PM (#23340442)
            These numbers are meaningless without corresponding numbers on how much flying was done. With the soaring price of avgas I wouldn't be surprised if accidents were down slightly simply because people are flying less.

            And to the grandparent poster: judging safety by reading the news is almost precisely backwards. The reason you hear about small planes crashing into things on the news is because it's rare enough to be newsworthy. A hundred people die on the roads in this country every day, and they almost never show up on the news because it's simply too commonplace.
            • Re:Stupid idea (Score:4, Informative)

              by twistedsymphony ( 956982 ) on Thursday May 08, 2008 @01:58PM (#23340522) Homepage

              These numbers are meaningless without corresponding numbers on how much flying was done. With the soaring price of avgas I wouldn't be surprised if accidents were down slightly simply because people are flying less.
              I disagree, they're measuring the accidents as a percentage of the total flights... so even if the total number of flights per year drops the percentage should theoretically remain the same.

              There are a large enough number of flights even with fewer flights that it shouldn't effect the overall percentage of incidents per flight.
              • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                Where does it say that? The linked page uses a raw accident count everywhere, and never gives any indication that it's comparing meaningful numbers, such as accidents per hour or accidents per mile. Nowhere does it mention a percentage of total flights.

                Your second paragraph simply makes no sense. The number of flights being made is irrelevant, only the percentage change matters.

                Tracking the number of GA flights being made is hard, so let's use avgas sales as a substitute. The linked page indicates that avga
              • There are a large enough number of flights even with fewer flights that it shouldn't effect the overall percentage of incidents per flight.

                The ratio should remain constant only if all other factors remain constant, which is unlikely to say the least. One possibility is that in conjunction with a decreased total number of flights, there was an increase in the retirement of older, more experienced pilots. Perhaps an increase of flights coincides with increased pilot fatigue, or an influx of new pilots. And
            • Re:Stupid idea (Score:5, Informative)

              by TooMuchToDo ( 882796 ) on Thursday May 08, 2008 @02:01PM (#23340566)
              http://www.aero-news.net/index.cfm?ContentBlockID=29293775-85f9-4007-817c-bd65a1060dda [aero-news.net]

              ASF notes that "...Back in 1950, the total accident rate was 46.68 accidents per 100,000 flight hours (the 100,000-hour measure being the statistical standard); the fatal accident rate was 5.17 per 100,000 flight hours. Today, both those numbers have plunged dramatically--7.05 and 1.26 per 100,000 hours, respectively. Those represent 85-percent and 76-percent drops. Fifty years ago, newspapers and accident reports were replete with stories of fatal buzzing accidents, hundreds of fatal forays by VFR-only pilots into instrument weather, and scads of fatal stall-spin accidents. These sorts of accidents still plague us now, but what a difference 50 years has made."

              Emphasis mine.

            • by lowy ( 91366 ) *
              Quote: With the soaring price of avgas I wouldn't be surprised if accidents were down slightly simply because people are flying less.

              Actually, if people were flying their planes less you would see the opposite effect; the number of accidents per hour flown would go up because the pilots flying would be out of practice.

              And yes, IAAP (I am a pilot).
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Rei ( 128717 )
          And with something like this, I'd expect it all the more. If you want it to both drive and fly, it's going to have to be poor at one, the other, or most likely, both, and the more you try and make it not be bad at both, the more it's going to cost. For example, the passenger safety cell. To be safe, you need to get a lot of metal around you. Sure, you could use titanium to have it just as strong as steel but 60% of the weight, but that'd really raise costs, and honestly, 60% of the weight isn't enough o
          • How about my perennial suggestion -- pack a lightweight, smallish motorcycle on your plane? Anyone willing to go through the training, risk, and expense of flying a small aircraft should have no problems getting qualified to ride a bike.
      • by muffen ( 321442 )
        From TFA: The Transition® is a roadable Light-Sport Aircraft that will be able to land at the airport, fold up its wings, and drive on the road.

        So, it's not like you can lift off and land wherever you want, it just happens to be one vehicle that can be both a plane and a car.

        To be honest, after reading the terrafugia webpage, it doesn't look at all like it's being targetted to the general audience, it's simply a proof-of-concept thing.
        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          My guess is that anyone that can afford this thing, can probably afford a real airplane and rent a car. Or buy a car everywhere they fly most often.

          Compromises usually do not offer the best of both worlds, they offer the minimum.
      • Actually... (Score:5, Interesting)

        by filthpickle ( 1199927 ) on Thursday May 08, 2008 @02:11PM (#23340754)
        As long as the weather isn't bad doing those things while flying would be easier than doing it in a car. Once you are in the air modern aircraft pretty much fly themselves.

        I'm not a pilot but I had a job as a lineman at small county airport while in college. I used to fly all over the place with the pilots that worked for the company, either for fun or (no shit) so they could have someone to talk to and not fall asleep. (we did overflow for UPS, all the flights were in the middle of the night)

        You take off, get clearance to fly a direct route to where you are going, enter in to the gps the code for airport you just left and which one you are going to, and wait until you get there.

        Amusing story, The first time I ever flew in a plane was after I started working there. One of the pilots had just landed from a long flight, something came up and he had to immediately go on another flight. He knew I had never flown so he asked me if I wanted to go with him. We take off, he sets the gps up then leans back in the seat and says "wake me up if I fall asleep". Slightly disconcerting for your first time in the air.
        • by Chris Burke ( 6130 ) on Thursday May 08, 2008 @03:03PM (#23341514) Homepage
          We take off, he sets the gps up then leans back in the seat and says "wake me up if I fall asleep". Slightly disconcerting for your first time in the air.

          Nice.

          I want to hear a commuter jet pilot say that over the intercom on a red eye flight some light. "*kkrsh* Ladies and gentlemen, this is your Captain speaking. I've pulled a double shift today, so if the plane starts to list, please knock loudly on the cockpit door."
        • We take off, he sets the gps up then leans back in the seat and says "wake me up if I fall asleep". Slightly disconcerting for your first time in the air.

          Ye gods, that's scary. I'm afraid that kind of behavior will be disconcerting to me no matter how many times I've been in the air. Yeah, the GPS and autopilot will fly you there. It will also fly you into the tower, mountain, or temporary hazard (tethered balloons, etc.) that lies along the straight line between here and there. It won't save you from having done something stupid, like missing something in one of your checklists because you were too damn tired (left the choke in the wrong position, etc.)

          It

    • by Belial6 ( 794905 )
      Your example does not show that a car/plane hybrid is a bad idea. It shows that we have not taken road safety seriously. The tech to have cars drive themselves has been available for decades, but nobody really wants it.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by AnyoneEB ( 574727 )
        Self-driving cars may be in the forseeable future, but if the technology already existed then there would be no DARPA Grand Challenge [wikipedia.org]. On the other hand, self-flying airplanes are much easier because, as I understand it, there are a lot few obstacles around and a lot of the decision making can be done by only reading instruments, not using human senses.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by mpathetiq ( 726625 )
        In addition to lacking auto-driving tech, we in the US have a woefully inadequate licensing program. If you had to pass a test similar to a pilot's license test in order to drive a car, I bet accident rates would plummet to match that of airplanes.
    • Actually, I think it's a pretty good idea. Here's why: the very same wings that can give lift when you want to use the vehicle as an airplane, can give extra downward force on the wheels when you want to use it as a car. That, in turn, will do two things: (1) increase the friction force correspondingly, and (2) cause upwash around the vehicle, thus decreasing the main source of drag: the ground /car bottom friction. So if designed correctly, the vehicle should be far more controlable in accidents *an
    • Re:Stupid idea (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Jafafa Hots ( 580169 ) on Thursday May 08, 2008 @02:40PM (#23341134) Homepage Journal
      RTFA. This is NOT a "car that can fly." In other words, its not aimed at allowing drivers to take to the skies.

      It's aimed at allowing PILOTS to take to the roads.

      In other words, people who fly now don't have to pay a hangar fee, they can keep their plane in their driveway. If going somewhere, they don't have to pay a hangar fee and then rent a car to get to their final destination, they can drive their plane there.

      Totally different focus, totally different market. Flying cars were stupid, but this is a damned good idea.

      • Re:Stupid idea (Score:5, Insightful)

        by mcrbids ( 148650 ) on Thursday May 08, 2008 @02:58PM (#23341418) Journal
        Totally different focus, totally different market. Flying cars were stupid, but this is a damned good idea.

        Oh my !@#king godz yes!

        One of the biggest limitations of flying is... what do you do once you land there? It's just like fast Internet - the famous "last mile" problem. Great, there's a small airport just 3 miles from your destination, making your 6 hour drive, 3-day trip into a 1.5 hour flight, day-tripper, but how do you get that last 3 miles from the airport to your actual, intended destination?

        You can rent a car, but that's hassle-prone and expensive. You can ask somebody there to pick you up, but that's dicey at best. Also, if the weather goes bad, you're stuck. And then what?

        This "drivable airplane" solves both problems completely!

        Yes, I'm a private pilot. I fly for business and pleasure. (had a great time taking my sister up just yesterday!) And let me tell you: I want I want I want I want I want I want I want I want I want I want I want I want I want I want I want!!!
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Arcturax ( 454188 )
      Possibly, but I see this argument being as hollow as anti-gun arguments. With the proper training and safety rules, I think the general public can handle flying cars, especially if there are automated systems on board to help them. This is stuff that is going into cars now such as back up and tailgating warning systems using radar and cameras. The main barriers aren't can the public learn this but can we do this in a way that won't pollute the air 100 times worse than we are now and how can we manage coo
  • by CannonballHead ( 842625 ) on Thursday May 08, 2008 @01:13PM (#23339798)
    Does that mean it's actually certified to drive, or just fits within the lane and all that? I'd feel kinda scared if there was a plane next to me on the freeway.
  • Not even the first post before the site was apparently slashdotted.
  • by techpawn ( 969834 ) on Thursday May 08, 2008 @01:17PM (#23339864) Journal
    for the flying car [youtube.com]
    And I thought I knew you man...
  • I don't get it (Score:5, Insightful)

    by muellerr1 ( 868578 ) on Thursday May 08, 2008 @01:18PM (#23339874) Homepage
    How is this different from any other crazy flying car [wikipedia.org]? It's still vaporware as long as there isn't a working prototype, and as far as the difference between a flying car and a 'roadable aircraft'--it seems like a marketing gimmick to me.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      The difference between a flying car and a roadable airplane is that a roadable airplane is more airplane than car. It is designed to land and get you a short distance to a nearby destination at relatively slow speeds. It is also more delicate on the ground than a regular car. The upside is that as an airplane, its functionality is mostly preserved. The concept of a Roadable Airplane is closer to the truth as far as what will actually work.

      Building roadable airplanes is all about minimizing the weight
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by muellerr1 ( 868578 )
        I understand what you're saying, but any flying car (roadable aircraft or not) has to meet minimum specifications which make it a 'car'--and presumably, has qualities which make it fly. All I'm saying is, we've been hearing about flying cars for decades and we're still no closer to a practical mass-market product despite efforts like these because the whole idea of a flying car for the masses is fundamentally flawed.
    • Re:I don't get it (Score:5, Informative)

      by dafoomie ( 521507 ) <dafoomieNO@SPAMhotmail.com> on Thursday May 08, 2008 @01:52PM (#23340424) Homepage
      Its not so much a flying car as it is a conventional airplane you can drive. You still need an airport to take off and land, it can't hover and you can't fly locally. What it gives you is the ability to drive to the airport, take off, land at another airport, and drive to your destination in the same vehicle. Its also intended for pilots, its not a solution for the masses.
      • What it gives you is the ability to drive to the airport, take off, land at another airport, and drive to your destination in the same vehicle.

        How is that different from a flying car? Put another way, isn't that also what a flying car is expected to do?

        Its also intended for pilots, its not a solution for the masses.

        This is what I was getting at: the idea of a flying car for the masses is fundamentally flawed, since being a pilot takes a lot more skill than driving a car, and there's a higher risk involve

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by vidarh ( 309115 )

          How is that different from a flying car? Put another way, isn't that also what a flying car is expected to do?

          No, a "flying car" is typically expected to be able to fly from anywhere to anywhere, usually with the assumption that there will be vertical or near vertical takeoff and landing, and it is typically expected to be advanced enough that "everyone" can fly it.

          This is what I was getting at: the idea of a flying car for the masses is fundamentally flawed, since being a pilot takes a lot more skill than driving a car, and there's a higher risk involved since there's no such thing as a fender-bender in the air.

          Sigh. But this is not about a "flying car for the masses". it's about a plane that can be driven on a road to/from the airport. Why you keep bringing up flying cars when this thing targets an entirely different type of market is beyond me, unless

  • by elrous0 ( 869638 ) * on Thursday May 08, 2008 @01:25PM (#23339994)
    Please God, tell me it's a hybrid!
  • by Skyshadow ( 508 ) * on Thursday May 08, 2008 @01:26PM (#23340020) Homepage

    That whole ability-to-fly thing will come in handy when the first gust of wind you encounter blows you off a bridge.

    A very light car with a huge side profile = the ditch.

    • Buying a big bag worth of ballast when you land, and just storing it somewhere there (taking it out of the plane when you take off) seems like it could fix this problem.

      It'd still get blown around like a leaf on the road, but wouldn't actually be too bad unless its a really big storm.
  • by SuperBanana ( 662181 ) on Thursday May 08, 2008 @01:28PM (#23340058)

    hopes to have its first full-scale proof-of-concept vehicle ready to show off at July's AirVenture aviation festival in Oshkosh, Wisconsin.

    From the "endeavors best left unrushed" department...

    Seriously, rushing to meet unrealistic deadlines is what causes spectacular failure- and this is really something best left to perfect.

    You don't want to hear "AAAAAAAH!" from the crowd, you want to hear "oooooooo"...

    • Along those lines...

      I used to work at the Curwood Corporate HQ... which is across the street from the Oshkosh airport. In July we had signs posted around the building that, instead of saying what to do if a plane crashed into the building, said what to do when a plane crashed into the building.

      Basically what I'm saying is my former colleagues agree with your "please don't rush this" idea!
    • They said they are looking for the maiden flight to happen by the end of the year. For the Oshkosh show, they are just going to have the proof of concept vehicle and it will do everything but fly.
  • The skills needed to fly are a lot higher than those to drive. In addition, inherent probmels will allways lead to the result neither being a good plane/helicopert nor being a good car. The idea is stricly for incompetents.
    • You need a pilot's license to fly it. It's an airplane that just happens to be able to fold it's wings up and drive.
    • by smellsofbikes ( 890263 ) on Thursday May 08, 2008 @02:08PM (#23340680) Journal
      >The skills needed to fly are a lot higher than those to drive.

      As a regular driver and a semi-regular pilot, I'm not sure I agree with that. Driving takes continuous alertness and work because you're surrounded by dangerous stuff, much of it being driven in the opposite direction only a meter or so away by crazy idiots talking on cellphones. In a plane, somewhere between 70 and 95% of the time, you have nothing more than air molecules in all directions for better than 2 km. I know pilots who have set alarm clocks, gotten the plane in stable flight with their 3 axis autopilot, and then gone to sleep for an hour while the plane tooled through the sky: a damned bad idea, but perfectly viable in a plane.
      Aircraft demand some skill in handling the plane in takeoff, and rather a lot in landing, and *enormous* amounts when there's an emergency and you have to do a bunch of intelligent things in the right order to survive. But overall, as regards routine flying, I don't think they require anywhere near as much consistent skill as driving.
      • by llZENll ( 545605 ) on Thursday May 08, 2008 @04:21PM (#23342504)
        I agree, but the only reason flying is easier is there is almost no one flying, if everyone were flying only a central computer would be able to coordinate flight plans, especially around cities. Driving is cake because if anything goes wrong, there is only one thing you need to know and remember to do, step on the brake, there is no analogy in flying, if something goes wrong in a plane you better have your shit together or you are dead. Also thinking in 3 dimensions rather than 2 is much harder for most people, probably not anyone on this site, but for most people it isn't easy.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          You're right: it IS because the flying population is low. One part of that, though, is that you can fly just about anywhere: higher, lower, off to one side or the other. There aren't highways, so the traffic density is inherently vanishingly low: lots, and lots, and lots of space in the sky.
          But at the same time, when you look at where the traffic density is high, at airports, that's where the majority of accidents happen, and if there were more people flying, that number would rise disproportionately, lik
  • by void* ( 20133 ) on Thursday May 08, 2008 @01:28PM (#23340072)
    The flying Pinto crashed and burned:

    http://www.fordpinto.com/mitzar1.htm [fordpinto.com]

    http://www.ntsb.gov/ntsb/brief.asp?ev_id=84720&key=0 [ntsb.gov]
    • omg it happened on 9/11 coincidence i dont think so the govenment-ford conspiracy is so busted now omg omg!!1!
    • The flying Pinto crashed and burned
      Given that it was a Pinto, stating that it burned is somewhat redundant.
  • They are are not aero/astro grads, they are Course 16 grads.
  • I can see this catching on with ranchers out west. They can fly to town twice as fast as they can drive and still park in the garage. At least they won't have to worry about tailgaters with that open prop out back.
  • by mfnickster ( 182520 ) on Thursday May 08, 2008 @01:35PM (#23340170)

    Here's how it's done, ladies and gents...

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/marcusjb/440970636/in/photostream/ [flickr.com]

  • Blind spots (Score:3, Interesting)

    by pjt48108 ( 321212 ) <pjt48108@@@yahoo...com> on Thursday May 08, 2008 @01:37PM (#23340208) Homepage
    With its wings folded, it appears to have huge blind spots, so I can't see it as being considered fit for the road.
  • This won't get very far. First obvious issue, the visibility available while in drive mode will make this thing a bitch to change lanes safely. Especially with people riding close up to gawk at it.

    And I wonder how it will work with ethanol gas? That apparently is all you can get now for cars. The specs don't specify aircraft fuel.

    And the useful load numbers are not that great. 550 lbs and 120 lbs of that is fuel. Today people are hitting the 200lbs mark very easily. I'll bet this beast is sluggis
    • And I wonder how it will work with ethanol gas? That apparently is all you can get now for cars.
      Where on Earth is ethanol all you get? I've never even seen ethanol for sale.
  • This seems barely more practical than the scattered modified small planes I saw in airshows 20 years ago that demonstrated motor-powered wheels driving the plane that was no wider than a lane. Those planes, if I recall correctly from my youth, had wings that folded upward, meaning driving under an overpass with less than about 20 feet of clearance would be a disaster.
  • And into the air.

    I am all for anything that speeds up natural selection.

  • by brassman ( 112558 ) on Thursday May 08, 2008 @01:59PM (#23340536) Homepage
    Not a lot of shared attributes between these two subclasses of class "vehicle."

    Car: heavy suspension built to handle potholes and such; real-world roads still apply various nasty twisting moments throughout the body, which must be stiff enough to cope. Can ignore the occasional shopping cart dimpling the sides as irrelevant to operational safety.

    Plane: built very VERY lightly. Undercarriage takes one good "whomp" on landing but time spent taxiing is a very small part of the overall life of the vehicle. Even a minor ding may result in it being flagged non-airworthy.

    Executive summary: Cars make lousy planes. Planes make lousy cars.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Arcturax ( 454188 )
      Problem is, you are thinking in 20th century materials. New materials such as carbon fiber and other new up and coming composites are extremely strong and flexible yet still durable enough to replace steel. As I have stated above. This will happen, but it is a matter of the technologies maturing and someone managing to put them together in a user friendly way. Home computing was thought impossible and the public too stupid to ever make use of one until the 1970's when the technologies matured and two gu
  • Wow, listen to you guys. A crowd that usually embraces and welcomes new technology is cutting this to ribbons. Whether or not the concept is actually practical or not remains to be seen - there is certainly more than enough interest out there to continue to fund and develop and research the idea, regardless if the masses don't like it. It'll happen anyway - just give it time.
    • by badboy_tw2002 ( 524611 ) on Thursday May 08, 2008 @02:16PM (#23340828)
      Ah, but now you've seen a classic /. poster archetype, the grumpy old man/Luddite. See any article on phones with more functions than making phone calls ("I just want something simple that makes a phone call"), game consoles with HD graphics ("no one wants these fancy graphics, no thanks"), HD TVs/BluRay/etc ("No one owns an HD tv, no one wants this, DVD is just fine for me thank-ya-very-much"), or websites that resemble anything past 1996 ("Whats with all these flash ads and graphics, give me 3 fonts on a repeating background!") This poster enjoys racing other posters of the same type to the bottom of the heap to show how old-school/not-affording that latest crap they are. Frequently spotted in threads about the iPhone, Wii/PS3/Xb360, and programming languages that were invented after 1981.

      That's all for now. Tune in later for "I know about topic X, topic X rhymes with article topic Y, let me tell you how smart I am" and everyone's favorite "This scientific breakthrough is no big deal unless I can buy some practical application of it tomorrow at Wal-Mart"
      • They should put your post in the user manual for Slashdot. There's likely room alongside the "Important Memes" section that details how to post "jokes" that repeat one of the "Important Memes" while inserting a single word related to the topic at hand, lending relevance to your humor.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by AJWM ( 19027 )
      It's understandable. Imagine how they feel when every time they ask "where's my flying car?", the response back is "where's your pilot's license?".

      Those of us that are licensed pilots (alas, not current in my case) think this is a cool idea. Ground transport when you get to your destination airport is always an issue. Years back they used to sell a small motorbike that folded up into something the size of a suitcase, my father-in-law had one. Or if you have a regular destination, you buy a cheap used c
  • Ever since watching Back to the Future II, I was hoping that we'd have flying cars by 2015. So now all we need now is hoverboards, Gray's Sports Almanac, a few more Jaws sequels, and all lawyers must be abolished.
  • From the coral cache, it looks like all they've got are some pretty 3ds Max pictures. (and possibly notably, there is some clipping in there...)

    But Moller has had a functional 2-seat volantor for about four years and "A FAA certified model is more than four years away." and has been for at least a decade.

    Suffice to say, I don't think that this is an easy problem to solve.
  • If you can afford to get a pilots license and own a plane and store it, or rent a plane, then you can damn well afford $22/day to rent a car. When trying to combine the 2 you end up with a crappy airplane and a crappy car.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by AJWM ( 19027 )
      There are hundreds of small/medium airports and airfields that are miles from the nearest car rental agency. There might be a few rental agencies that might be willing to ferry a car out, at great added cost, but that's a decidedly non-trivial exercise, and not always available.
    • by deragon ( 112986 )
      Problem is, you have to live near a rental store... Else, how do you get to the store? Some stores bring you the car, but there is still the wait like a taxi and I believe you have to return the driver back to the store. If you have your vehicle in your garage, hop in and gone you are. No hassle.

      You combine the two because it is practical for you and you are ready to sacrifice comfort/space/maneuverability for convenience and fast transit.
  • "You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means."
  • by emkman ( 467368 ) on Thursday May 08, 2008 @02:09PM (#23340698)
    If you haven't seen it:
    The Flying Car [viewaskew.com] - A short by Kevin Smith
  • "The old joke is that the best way to make a small fortune in aviation is to start with a large one,"

    I though that was pretty much true of any field. I know I've heard it said that the best way to make a small fortune in the stock market is to start with a large one, and I have a hard time thinking of any area of business where that isn't the case. Hence the age-old saying "It takes money to make money." (Well, it doesn't really, but it sure helps out.)
    • (Well, it doesn't really, but it sure helps out.)

      Oh, but it does, at every level of the economy. If you can't afford to feed yourself, buy water for showers, and rent a quiet place to sleep at night, you simply won't be able to make money. You might try to get a job, but without food in your stomach, good hygiene, and a rested mind, you'll be fired quickly.

      Granted, there are some opportunities in the world to get food, water, and shelter for free, making it possible to make money without having money yo

  • Killed by insurance (Score:3, Informative)

    by Kupfernigk ( 1190345 ) on Thursday May 08, 2008 @02:53PM (#23341346)
    Most of these ideas get killed by insurance costs rather than engineering impracticality. To suggest that an unproven form of transport that is capable of falling out of the sky onto people and resulting in lawsuits is going to be affordable to insure in the United States suggests a happy ignorance of the American legal system and the history of the American medical system. Think of the sound of 1000 Ralph Naders trying to get famous off the back of killing a fledgling industry.

    I think the idea is impractical for many other, technical reasons, but litigiousness and insurance are the deadly killers.

  • Think:
    • Good cars have certain features.
    • Good airplanes have a very different set of features.
    • Adding car-like features to an airplane will result in a compromised airplane and a very poor car.
    • Adding plane-like features to a car will result in a compromised car and a very, very poor airplane.
    • Designing a car-plane from scratch sounds very expensive and unlikely to result in a good anything.
  • This is not a flying car. This is not a flying car. This is not a flying car. THIS IS NOT A FLYING CAR.
    THIS! IS! NOT! A! FLYING! CAR!

    Let's go back to the Jetsons and think of what we saw in their cartoon. The concept of a flying car is a vehicle in which the general public can transport themselves in the air and start from and end at any point desired. It is currently unsafe, illegal, and HIGHLY not recommended for any such implementation to even happen. The general public would have to be trained on basic

Quantum Mechanics is a lovely introduction to Hilbert Spaces! -- Overheard at last year's Archimedeans' Garden Party

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