Posting in Design
The Pentagon research agency sets a deadline to fulfill its George Jetson-like dreams.
What do you get when you cross an all-terrain vehicle with a helicopter? A flying car, duh.
We may know come 2015. That year the creative military minds at DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) hope to test a prototype for the Transformer TX. The Pentagon agency solicited proposals from companies, universities, and other institutions this week to develop the design and technology for the military air/land craft.
On a single tank of JP-8 fuel, the hypothetical war machine will switch between flying and off-roading and execute combat maneuvers within a 250-mile range. The proposal envisioned technology along the lines of hybrid electric drive, advanced batteries, ducted fan propulsion systems and lightweight heavy fuel engines.
Among the vehicle's other requirements are the abilities to quickly (and relatively quietly) lift off and land vertically, fly up to 10,000 feet, carry four people and their combat gear (maximum payload capability 1,000 pounds), and be no more than 9 feet high, 8.5 feet wide and 30 feet long.
Jeremy Hsu reports for PopSci:
We're just mildly surprised that DARPA stopped shy of ordering up a prototype of giant robot Transformers such as Optimus Prime or Starscream, because that list constitutes a very tall order. But perhaps the $43 million budget put some limits on the brainstorming sessions. Expect to see this vehicle come out when cars fly.
DARPA mentions some of the reasons (besides being cool) for the ambitious project:
- Current transport systems present operational limitations where the warfighter is either anchored to the ground with Highly Mobile Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicles (HMMWV) and thus vulnerable to ambush, or reliant on helicopters, which are limited inavailability.
- TX provides unprecedented options to avoid traditional and asymmetrical threats while avoiding road obstructions.
- Transportation is no longer restricted to trafficable terrain that tends to makes movement predictable.
- The TX vehicle can avoid Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) and ambushes, while also allowing the warfighter to approach targets from directions that give our warfighters the advantage in mobile ground operations.
Image: Flickr/creative location
Apr 16, 2010
If DARPA truly submitted a challenge for designing and building a true "flying car" I thoroughly missed it. We have been working quietly on the subject for a few years and been busy filing for patents left and right. We believe we have it in the form of an ionic (virtually) levitating vehicle; the ?ILV?. The problem is surely the on-board electric generator which must be very powerful, yet compact and light (no fossil fuel). We just filed a patent for a cyclotronic ionic power generator which can easily provide 1,000 kW of electric power capable to provide the energy to lift over 20,000 Kg vertically via a very sophisticated multi fiber ionic propulsion system. Such a generator would be the size of a regular V8 car engine and weigh 600 lbs or less. Nothing like we ever thought of putting inside of a car. Free from major aerodynamics limitations, such a device (flying car, using its own body as a propulsion engine) could very well have a shape of a brick and still fly, take off vertically with ease and float (hover) over any medium (ground, water, snow) for hours. If a low radiation medium half-life decaying isotope, such as Mesothorium is used, the range is practically limitless. Initially, to build such a unit it would cost multi millions of dollars, but in volume it may turn to be cheaper than a regular automobile. Such a vehicle could also serve as a mobile clean power plant to hook onto the local network and make money. It sounds strange? We do specialize in out of the box power generation devices. Peeker Energy Corporation Can you tell us if the challenge is still on and if so how to apply? http://peeker-energy.com
A flying car may be a good idea for military and restricted purposes. But certainly not for mass use. Have you noticed how many small bingles there are on our roads each day? If these happen in the sky be prepared for a lot of heavy machinery dropping out of the sky, on to your garden, your house, or you! No one has yet invented a machine that will eliminate the fool in me.
Now that Popular Science and Mechanics, both paragons of truth, justice, poor journalism and propaganda outlets supreme for anydamnthing the DARPA dreams up let's look back on 80 or so years of drive/fly boondoggles and/or fanciful ideas that JohnQ will ever be ready or capable of such. Firstly, when you try to make one machine do two radically different functions they, by design actually, do neither well. 'Jack of all trades, master of none' kind of thing. Now have the military start adding pounds by the truck load and what you have is a fantastic waste of money that will produce nothing but a good time for the designers and testers of the things, and piles of scrap metal for the buyers. Or they can park any that survive alongside all the Ospreys that they occasionally fire up just to keep the fluids in the motors from drying up.