February 15, 2006 12:41 PM PST

Flying car ready for takeoff?

(continued from previous page)

The picture has changed, however, with the development of lighter and stronger construction materials and more efficient engines. Terrafugia is aiming to build a vehicle that will fly at 120 miles per hour and get 30 miles a gallon in the air. (It will also get 40 miles per gallon on the freeway and 30 in the city).

The Transition vehicle will carry a payload of only 430 pounds, far less than cars, but how many cars can take flight after 1,500 feet of takeoff space?

Demand also has finally begun to emerge. Today's clogged freeway traffic and dispersed suburban living patterns have created an audience for these types of vehicles. Regional airports are also somewhat plentiful and underutilized. In addition, Federal Aviation Administration regulations passed in 2004 have made it easier to get a sport pilot's license.

"Since 9/11, for the first time, average door-to-door travel speed has really dropped substantially due to a combination of increased security measures at airports and more road traffic," Dietrich said in a statement accepting the Lemelson prize.

The Lemelson foundation, named after controversial inventor and patent litigant Jerome Lemelson, gives an annual student award, as well as lifetime awards, to inventors. Past winners of the student prize included James McLurkin for his work on swarming robots. Lifetime achievement winners included Segway inventor Dean Kamen.

The foundation cited Dietrich, one of the star students in the department, for other accomplishments. Dietrich also holds a patent for the Centrifugal Direct Injection Engine, a low-cost, high-performance rocket propulsion engine. For his doctoral work, he is researching how a fusion reactor could be used to power a spacecraft.

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If only...
I would have a lot more confidence if they hadn't invented the word
"roadable" and plastered it all over...
Posted by privatec (75 comments )
Reply Link Flag
I don't think they invented the word
<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.google.com/search?lr=&#38;ie=UTF-8&#38;oe=UTF-8&#38;q=roadable" target="_newWindow">http://www.google.com/search?lr=&#38;ie=UTF-8&#38;oe=UTF-8&#38;q=roadable</a>
Posted by FOSS4evR (25 comments )
Link Flag
Might be doable but is it Feasable/Practical?
I can understand the challenge to build such a vehicle but there are way too many objectives to overcome. An infrastructure to accommodate such a vehicle would take decades to plan and build as well as the many vehicle and driver safety concerns. A crash in the air would make survivability of all involved a highly unlikely proposition. Just a few things to consider...
Posted by pilaa (253 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Might be doable but is it Feasable/Practical?
A BRS would help with a mid air crash or structural failure.

<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.brsparachutes.com/Default.aspx?tabId=2" target="_newWindow">http://www.brsparachutes.com/Default.aspx?tabId=2</a>
Posted by techie_042 (3 comments )
Link Flag
The least of your problems
Imagine bumping lightly into something while parking at the mall. A plane is aerodynamic. This means that ANY small bump could make this vehicle unairworthy without appearing damaged and who is going to check that? Even if there are checks once per month how can the driver check that all surfaces are ABSOLUTELY straight before flying. Remember that any minor change in the aerodynamics could make the plane dangerous.
Posted by jsargent (98 comments )
Link Flag
"Imagine bumping lightly into something while parking at the mall. A plane is aerodynamic. This means that ANY small bump could make this vehicle unairworthy without appearing damaged and who is going to check that? Even if there are checks once per month how can the driver check that all surfaces are ABSOLUTELY straight before flying. Remember that any minor change in the aerodynamics could make the plane dangerous."

That is just ignorant. As a pilot you are required by FAA regulations to perform a preflight check before every single flight. Another point i should make is that this is not a terribly high performance aircraft (nothing like an F-22). you could chop the end of the wingtip off and it would still be flyable. a small bump won't make it unairworthy without it being caught by a preflight check.
Posted by jedmann1989 (6 comments )
Link Flag
A frightening thought...
The ground drivers around this town are bad enough to scare the
socks off you twice a day. No one pays any attention to traffics
laws. And the word is that the local police don't enforce traffic laws
because any traffic fine money goes to the state not the city.
whatever the reason why, the laws aren't enforced.

Now you want to let these same idiots get airborne?
Posted by Earl Benser (4310 comments )
Reply Link Flag
&gt;Now you want to let these same idiots
&gt;get airborne?

Too true. Can you imagine what it will be like while they're flying, mucking with the GPS system, and trying to talk on their cell phones?
Posted by R. U. Sirius (745 comments )
Link Flag
It's Worse
&lt;quote&gt;Now you want to let these same idiots get airborne?&lt;/quote&gt;

It's worse than you suggest. To have traffic in the air, people have to think three dimensionally. As you say, people have a hard enough time managing safely in two dimensions.

The only ways I can imagine for safe air commuting are an automated system or ferrying. We know that automating airline baggage systems can prove troublesome, so imagine the difficulty of automating air commuting.

Ferrying, on the other hand, could provide the ability to fly your vehicle, along with others no doubt, between points. Thus, you'd drive to a ferrying point, ride the ferry some distance, and then drive on to your final destination. That, of course, can constrain your schedule and autonomy.
Posted by c|net Reader (856 comments )
Link Flag
Darwin award!
I don't know why you are all so worried about bad drivers. I think this is the greatest solution to handling idiot drivers. Now, when they do something stupid, they die! Problem solved! Natural selection at it's finest.

In all seriousness, pilots will be certified, the flying car will be certified, and you will be just as safe as you are right now. Congestion might begin to be a problem for your great-grandkids, but let's not let paranoia strangle some forward thinking.
Posted by mumblipegg (1 comment )
Link Flag
Don't fear. You'll still need a pilot license.
Flying is not for the masses, except in airliners. The few people
who already fly are the market for flying cars, not wannabies who
focus on why they can't.
Posted by JackfromBerkeley (136 comments )
Link Flag
This invention isn't for the average driver. They say it themselves on there website it is for the sport pilot who want to have an even greater amount of freedom. As a pilot myself i can see it coming in very handy. Now any old Joe Shmoe on the highway can't buy one and start flying it. you have to get a pilot's license through FAA certified training first. and they don't give licenses to irresponsible pilot's.
Posted by jedmann1989 (6 comments )
Link Flag
There were automatic cars in the 90s that drove by themselves and apparently the technology is improving. If the same concept can be applied to roadable aircraft then perhaps it might be worth the effort, but there's a lot of issues such as electronics systems failure, crash prevention and recovery, fuel source, and many more issues.

The idea of ferrying is a good one, people already do the 9am and 5pm shuffle in congested areas so ferrying might be a solution to that. On the other end, maybe there should just be some limits on who can fly these vehicles, aside from the obvious pilot's license - if the sector takes off, then a lot of people will want to fly these things.
Posted by DreamsREXpENsive (1 comment )
Link Flag
Helicycle is for real
They've made over 100 kits of which more than 25 are in the air.
It's a hotrod single place turbine engined helicopter. The kit and
engine cost $32,500. It's too much fun not to seriously want, at
least for me.
I have a nice design for a roadable aircraft, which I always wanted
because airports are often a long walk from where I was actually
going. If I ever finish it, you'll see it at Oshkosh, b'gosh.
Posted by JackfromBerkeley (136 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Imagine falling cars landing on your house
Imagine falling cars landing on your house. There's no way the FAA would allow flying cars in the air. It's too dangerous for everyone else.
Posted by lingsun (482 comments )
Reply Link Flag
I dont agree...
Oh yes they would. They dont have too much of a choice. If the consumers want it, then it will happen. I doubt the FAA will have jurisdiction anyway. There will probably be a different organization in charge.

On another note, look at the kids doctoral paper, its no good. He is writing it on fusion for space propulsion? The Russians have been researching this for almost a decade. Pick something original, will ya?
Posted by jjesusfreak01 (83 comments )
Link Flag
Not any less safe than currently flying aircraft
It would have to meet the same specifications as other LSA aircraft with the same people watching. I don't think it would be any less safe than what is currently flying. If it met the FAA regulations, they would allow it.
Posted by xavierm (3 comments )
Link Flag
Fender Bender = calamitous death
Absolutely correct. Imagine tens of thousands of small aircraft choking the sky and blocking out the sun -- when EVERY single bump or fender bender is GUARANTEED to result in a flaming violent fatal crash. You'll let the wife and kids do that? Everyone would spend all their time hiding in bomb shelters.

Let alone obvious problems of takeoff, landing, and fuel consumption, and all the required infrastructure. Flying cars will NEVER be economically viable unless someone invents magic anti-gravity.

The flying car is such an absurd non-starter I'm always amazed people take it seriously outside of The Jetsons. You want ot build a very small airplane for competent pilots to keep at the local airport, fine. But call it a "flying car" and you're in fantasy land and will still be in fantasy land 1,000 years from now.
Posted by MikeDson (50 comments )
Link Flag
...the profundity of your comment takes my breath away.
Posted by 203129769353146603573853850462 (97 comments )
Link Flag
"Imagine falling cars landing on your house. There's no way the FAA would allow flying cars in the air. It's too dangerous for everyone else. "

Ignorance again. The FAA already has certified flying cars. Take a look at the W-5 Arrowbile or the Aerocar. Both were certified airworthy and were flying and driving.
Posted by jedmann1989 (6 comments )
Link Flag
Practicality - good question
It would be great if this takes off (no pun intended). Of course, many have tried, failed, and are still trying. The GA (General Aviation) market is a hard one to break into to begin with. many companys produce a great product (whether a kit or certified aircraft) to end up bankrupt &#38; the person who then buys the assets makes all the money since they didn't have to deal with the certification costs.
The limitations of the sport pilot license negates the usefulness of the car/aircraft in many major cities where your faced with airspace in which a sport pilots license forbids you to enter (without a 'logbook entry'), and flying at night (to name a few restrictions). Those two alone kill the use of the car as a commuter in 'aircraft mode'. If you live outside a major city, you might be okay.
You could weave your way through the airspace, but try explaining to your boss that you have to leave early because you can't fly home after dusk. Night, defined by the FAA is "One hour after evening civil twilight and one hour before morning civil twilight", so it can still be light outside but still illegal to fly.

to add to that, most airports (all the ones I've visited) are protected by some kind of gate/fence to limit access. Utually access is granted via a key card. Can't just go up and drive on the field to take off...

It will be interesting to see what happens.
Posted by xavierm (3 comments )
Reply Link Flag
We need dreamers. Keep it up, folks!
Terrafugio is mostly college kids. I wish them luck. There are
so many things they'll need to rethink, but they are thinking
towards a solution we may all like. Their web site is better than
their actual design, but their next version will likely be better.
They fly regular airplanes. That helps them keep their dreaming
grounded in reality. Everyone says you can't do stuff until you
do. Stephen Pitcairn made a good functional roadable autogyro
in 1937 and landed it on the White House lawn, the day Hitler
invaded Czechoslovakia. It didn't make the news that day. I saw
it in the Washington Air and Space Museum. If I could buy one
today, I would. Hey you Terra folks, check it out! It really
worked much bettewr than Molt Taylor's Aerocar, which I saw fly.
It was a hopeless flyer, barely able to climb out of ground effect.
It had front wheel drive and with the wings as a trailer, could not
be driven uphill. You find stuff like that out After you build your
dream. Lessons abound. Learn them, and make us our Flying
Car! Thanks.
Posted by JackfromBerkeley (136 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Hasn't anyone heard of the Moller SkyCar?
Moller has been around for years trying to get civilian aircraft
going. He's got the "SkyCar" now, which appears to be ready for
production (and has for quite some time now). Vertical takeoff and
landing eliminates the need for a runway, it's got three wheels so it
can be registered with the DMV as a motorcycle. If I had the money
I'd buy one!
Posted by coolcat312 (9 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Moller is a con man
He's been taking deposits for the Skycar for about 30 years.
Micheal Jackson and Jerry Garcia each gave him $300,000. It can
never work. Modern GPS tech lets some of Moller's no-input
piloting concept be possible, but the laws of propeller physics
mean his performance claims are outlandish and impossible. Keep
trying, folks, and don't waste your money on this loser.
Posted by JackfromBerkeley (136 comments )
Link Flag
Folding Wings... I certainly hope not!
Any F-18 pilot would be very concerned if their plane's wings folded as they are not supposed to do that. The pilot would be ejecting right quickly is my guess.

The author might have meant F-14 or F-111 which both have "variable geometery" wings as the biz call so-called "folding" wings.
Posted by barsoom (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
Actually many planes can fold their wings.
Experimental planes like the Thorp T-18 and some of the Kitfox
models have folding wings. People love to try to save money on
hangars by trailering their aircraft. Only trouble is, you have to
assemble it right every time, which gets old. Most folding wing
planes I ever saw were kept in hangars fully assembled all the time
anyway. Folding wings is the right approach for a roadable, I would
Posted by JackfromBerkeley (136 comments )
Link Flag
Re: Folding Wings
There are Variable Geometry wings, and then there are folding wings.

Folding wings have been in use since WW2 in order to concerve space on aircraft carriers. F18 wings DO fold as this photo demonstrates: <a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.defenseindustrydaily.com/images/AIR_F-18C_Folded_Wings_lg.jpg" target="_newWindow">http://www.defenseindustrydaily.com/images/AIR_F-18C_Folded_Wings_lg.jpg</a>
Posted by (5 comments )
Link Flag
Folding wings
The F-18's wings do fold to save deck space.
Posted by xavierm (3 comments )
Link Flag
Another ******* stupid comment

"Any F-18 pilot would be very concerned if their plane's wings folded as they are not supposed to do that. The pilot would be ejecting right quickly is my guess."

Do some research before you make your comments. The F-18 and many military aircraft before that have folding wings to save space on aircraft carriers.
Posted by jedmann1989 (6 comments )
Link Flag
Flying Car? Try Plane...
They can call it what ever they want, it's still a plane. 1,500 feet of take off space. Where in your neighborhood are you going to find that? Oh wait, this is not for the middle class. Well I guess you'll have to own a small air field with one of these.

Show me something that looks more like a car, takes off and lands vertically, carry a better pay load than this sport plane, then I can call it a flying car. Until then, it's a PLANE.
Posted by (56 comments )
Reply Link Flag
It's not supposed to take off out of your driveway. You drive it to an airport then you take off dumba$$. And they don't call it a flying car. They call it a roadable aircraft. BIG DIFFERENCE
Posted by jedmann1989 (6 comments )
Link Flag
What happened to the Moller Air Car?
It is great that these people are getting press but what ever happened to the Moller Air Car?

I think that most of us were banking on that to be the standard for personal flying vehicles.

I believe that if flying cars are to become a true standard for transportation its roots will have to originate from outside the US.

I don't believe the FAA will support personal flying vehicles this without major pressure from consumers.

Thats just the way I see it.
Posted by Geeklan (3 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Like the other post above, hes a conman
He had TONS of money invested in his project - more than enough to get it working, even if just a prototype
Posted by tech_junky (56 comments )
Link Flag
Outside the US?
Speaking as person outside the US I can't imagine a better place to develop such a vehicle except for the US. The idea of a flying car for general consumers would ONLY be feasable in the US where both the economy AND the space allows this. In Europe they don't have the space and elsewhere they don't have the economy to support the market.
Posted by jsargent (98 comments )
Link Flag
Still under development
see &lt;<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.moller.com/" target="_newWindow">http://www.moller.com/</a>&gt; You can also register for regular updates
Posted by washy2 (1 comment )
Link Flag
Aircars made outside USA
You are cordially invited to view my flying car project at www.strongware.com/dragon . It may be made outside the USA with fewer legal and financial restrictions and cheap labor.
Posted by RichStrong (11 comments )
Link Flag
Concerns about "average" pilots
I'm assuming the navigation system, controls, &#38;c. will all be simplified somehow, but I have a few concerns about more people taking to the skies.

Having some idea of what it takes to learn to fly, and how easy it can be in some areas to get a sport aircraft license.. well, I sincerely hope *that* process doesn't get simplified. There are plenty of people on the roads who can barely drive within the limits of traffic laws, for instance - I hope to doG they're kept out of the air.

Also, sport aircraft tend to be purely mechanical. Cars these days tend to be more electronic/microcontrolled and power-assisted; will they build the redundancy systems into these that fly-by-wire aircraft have, or will there be a return to purely mechanical driving, or a hybrid of power-assisted [steering and brakes] for example while driving with mechanical control of flight surfaces? Safety in the air is vastly different from safety on the ground, and what happens if, say, the dashboard computer suddenly gacks [as happens with modern vehicles] because of humidity, cold/hot extremes, &#38;c.? I have actually seen recently-built vehicles' "crash", i.e. the entire dashboard suddenly dies because the computer quit, meaning there is no speedometer, odometer, tachometer, or even for that matter turn signal indicators or working radio.

Lastly, can anyone say "consumer cruise missile"?
Posted by dex Otaku (4 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Nobody wants to fly any more but me
I'm alone most days I go out to my formerly busy local airport. 2
sets of double runways once each had their own radio frequency,
and you'd be like Number 12 Downwind for Landing, every time.
Now, 30 years later, the skies are empty. I never have to wait for
the fuel truck and that's nice, but I wonder why none of you seem
to want to aviate, like I always did.
Posted by JackfromBerkeley (136 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Check the price of fuel and insurance lately?.....
Posted by Earl Benser (4310 comments )
Link Flag
Chin up...
...the General Aviation* biz is retooling (late) with fiberglas, diesel, and LSA planes.

'Bout time. High cost is (obviously) killing GA.

You'll see more people in the air as these things come on-line.

Final word: "Experimental". You dig?

*personal or commercial, non-military flying
Posted by 203129769353146603573853850462 (97 comments )
Link Flag
A million little pieces....
Just like the book...this idea is full of intent but will remain in the fiction category.

Elroy and his hot sister Judy
Posted by KsprayDad (375 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Can society handle the Z-axis?
Flying cars are a great concept. But the cars will have to be highly regulated with technology to prevent hishaps. Today's car drivers have enough trouble trying to navigate and avoid collisions along just the and X and Y axes. Add in the Z axis and we're looking for a world of chaos!

And could you imagine one of these things being stolen? The cops might be chasing the driver down I-95 and then... take-off time! Now the guy's up in the air flying over the trees! It would give "took off in a stolen car" literal meaning.
Posted by kmccrack (3 comments )
Reply Link Flag
mishaps, not hishaps
Sorry for the typo.
Posted by kmccrack (3 comments )
Link Flag
Flying is way beyond the average human being.
At least Moller's Skycar was supposed to fly itself to where you'd
tell it you want to go. Modern planes can pretty much do that
today too; you have to know how to program your autopilot. But
hey, the smallest thing goes wrong, and all of a sudden you get
to see if you have The Right Stuff.
Mostly there are too many variables to keep aware of. If a gauge
reads anomolously and you fail to notice, you could be dead and
take lots of people with you. Pilot licenses are hard to get for
very good reason.
Those of you who are born to fly, will persist and prevail. The
sky is ours. They can fight over the ground but the sky belongs
to us.
Posted by JackfromBerkeley (136 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Message has been deleted.
Posted by montgomeryburns (109 comments )
Link Flag
Way beyond the average person, yep
You're beeing tto kind, Driving is way beyond the average person.

And I'm a pilot. I can't see the technology replacing the critical take-off and landing phases for this flying car. Sure, it works now on Boeings and Airbuses, but look at the infrastructure required! It's already straining, too, just with the load of *pro* pilots.
Posted by 203129769353146603573853850462 (97 comments )
Link Flag
I think humans are incompetent to drive. The d. license should be 21 years, which will force people to use public transportation. Ultimately we need a Automated Highway System and Automated ATC System so that we fly/drive with beacons/gps and embedded sensors. CM/Berkeley and Cal Trans had a working prototype before 9/11 happened and everyone's attention was turned elsewhere. If we used the Billions spent in Iraq on designing a better transportation system, america would be more secure and efficient...
Posted by springbokmarine (9 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Posted by Mendz (519 comments )
Reply Link Flag
F-18 wings don't fold...
...wonder what else they got wrong in the story?

As with most aviation reporting, it's sloppy and uninformed.
Posted by 203129769353146603573853850462 (97 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Yes they do
See <a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.tailhook.org/Gallery.html" target="_newWindow">http://www.tailhook.org/Gallery.html</a> - the top left picture, F18 at sunset on deck.
Posted by Seawolf1 (1 comment )
Link Flag
Posted by jedmann1989 (6 comments )
Link Flag
Know-nothing Gen-Yers chiming in...
...who nothing about aviation. Wonderful.
Posted by 203129769353146603573853850462 (97 comments )
Reply Link Flag
I tried writing the company but their web site isn't up
If any of the company's principals feels like immersing themselves
in the effluvia of the unwashed masses, perhaps they will read this
and take my suggestion and go see the Pitcairn AC-37 Roadable
Gyrocopter in the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum at Langley,
Virginia, anyway.
Posted by JackfromBerkeley (136 comments )
Reply Link Flag
You can fly too, if you want to badly enough
If you're the kind of person who thinks Why You Can't, then you
If you're like me, you already do.
Posted by JackfromBerkeley (136 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Students at MIT give flying car a shot
I have carefully researched the Flying Car
Technology for about a decade or more now.

Flying Car is possible. But one has to define
the problem carefully and approach from basics. I just applied for a couple of provisional
patent in India in December 2005.

If one looks carefully into aerospace technologies, there is a MISSING LINK in relevance of such tehnologies to automobile.

Once we solve this, Flying Car does become a
reality. It is closer to reality than one can
think of. One must detach from looking at this
'problem' from aircraft point of view and take
a viwpoint from 'automobile' side instead.

Sure, existing solutions are not convincing
Posted by akvish (19 comments )
Reply Link Flag
I look forward to seeing it at Oshkosh
Every year at the end of July, the Experimental Aircraft Association
holds their annual fly-in. I know you know of it, good sir, and I
thought to let these other readers be aware of it too.

If you like things that fly, there's a lot of that at Oshkosh.
Everything new and most everything that's old and still flies is well
represented. Oshkosh is a party, like a week-long New Year's if
you have plane tastes.
Posted by JackfromBerkeley (136 comments )
Link Flag
Fender benders on my head
Some people can't even drive while "grounded".
It scares me to think they may be flying over head!

Posted by technewsjunkie (1265 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Don't confuse the qualifications for driving a car with what it takes to become a private pilot or a sport pilot.
Posted by sportav (25 comments )
Link Flag
Molt Taylor --- 1956 ----
<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.aerocar.com/" target="_newWindow">http://www.aerocar.com/</a>
Posted by Kalama (57 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Interesting link with QT .mov's
<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://museum.eaa.org/collection/aircraft/Taylor%20Aerocar.asp" target="_newWindow">http://museum.eaa.org/collection/aircraft/Taylor%20Aerocar.asp</a>

click your way to video's
Posted by Kalama (57 comments )
Link Flag
Shades of James Bond.....
.... or rather The Man With The Golden Gun......
Posted by Earl Benser (4310 comments )
Link Flag

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