With seemingly every car on the road being designed by the same three people, all of whom live in the same subdivision, it seems the only leap forward in auto design is the leap upward.
Many hearts, then, were sent soaring at the news that the Federal Aviation Administration is giving the Terrafugia Transition a little light leeway in order to allow it to qualify as a light aircraft rather than a heavy machine. And now the Marines seem to be getting in on the flying Ford Focus act.
Called the Tyrannos, its principal benefit for soldiers lies in the fact that it can fly above the reach of roadside bombs.
Another quite lovely attribute is the Tyrannos' ability to take off vertically. And it all seems to be made possible by something called "shrouded propeller" technology, created by a company called Trek Aerospace.
The idea of a shrouded propeller sounds so forward into the future that there's something a little dispiriting to hear it also described by Trek as a "ducted fan," which sounds like little more than a piece of air conditioning equipment. Still, Logi Aerospace's Larry Ortega, who invented the Tyrannos' guidance system, seems confident that he knows what he's doing.
The Logi Aerospace Web site describes the Tyrannos as a four-person SUVish sort of thing "that anyone can literally drive into the air." Drivers/pilots will enjoy an animation on their windshield that directs them on a very strict route "up and down imaginary ramps that lead hundreds of feet into the air and stretch like Interstates across the country."
Top speeds appear to be 240mph in the air and 103mph on the ground, which really does make the Tyrannos seem like a flying SUV.
For those who wish to take the Tyrannos to Vegas, perhaps never to return, there are a couple of tiny drawbacks. At least they seem like tiny drawbacks to me. For example: "The aircraft is designed to fly at only 1,000 or 2,000 feet in the air, but at nearly any location above the landmasses of the earth."
However, it can, allegedly, fly "1,000 feet over 10,000 foot mountains."
According to Wired, Ortega said the Tyrannos would have "as much protection as helmets". Which inspires slightly less confidence than "you couldn't blow this baby away with a nuclear missile."
And I am a little skeptical as to whether Ortega really believes this is truly a military plane--or one for you and your little family of Range Rovering rogues.
Logi Aerospace's press release begins with much patriotic fervor. However, it soon devolves into a discussion about transforming "modern lifestyles." It promises that the Tyrannos could journey between Santa Barbara and L.A., a drive that normally takes two hours, in just 35 minutes.
Which would suggest a great boon to many Hollywood executives, always in need of more efficiency in their lives.
And let's not forget that it's "eco-friendly" too. Yes, it can land on just battery power.
Troublingly, the Tyrannos is merely at the conceptual stage. And one more thing bothers me just a smidgen. That name. "Tyrannos." Is that not slightly redolent of, well, tyranny? Surely we cannot have the military associated with such a concept.
There might be a more appropriate name for this highly vertiginous vehicle. How about the Boing-Boing?