By Tuan Nguyen
Posting in Design
Burt Rutan's BiPod may be the most innovative attempt at a flying car.
Although it's quite inaccurate to say that flying cars are all the rage these days, I have been noticing the concept has been receiving some buzz as of late.
For instance, one recently proposed design that's looking a tad promising is the Solotrek air car, a hovercraft that relies on duct-fan technology to travel above ground. A more road-ready option, though, is the Terrafugia, a drivable aircraft equipped with collapsible wings, which recently received clearance from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Meanwhile, Europe has invested $6.2 millions dollars in the MyCopter drivable aircraft project to ensure they get in on the automotive flying frenzy.
But Burt Rutan's BiPod, a hybrid flying vehicle unveiled last weekend, may be the most innovative entry to come into the mix. The technology works similarly to electric cars like the Chevy Volt wherein gasoline engines drive generators that supply power to an array of electric motors. And since it's the motors that generate the propulsion, it can go all-electric -- but for only about 35 miles.
It comes equipped with dual gasoline engines, six electric motors and lithium-ion batteries. With all that power, a pilot/driver can expect a flying range of 760 miles, a driving range of and 820 miles and a cruising speed that tops of at 200 mph.
The SpaceShipOne designer's latest creation also has dual fuselages, which adds a twist to, you know, conventional flying cars. The left cockpit is for road steering while the one on the right is dedicated to air navigation -- a separation of functions that makes controlling the roadable aircraft less complex and much more manageable. It even comes with removable wings that can be stored in between the pods for whenever the pilot needs to park the aircraft.
The company, Scaled Composites, has tested a pared-down prototype on a runway in Mojave, California where it demonstrated with a few short hops that it just may be close to being road-ready. For now, they're hoping the more attention the project gets, the more likely they'll start attracting potential costumers.
Related on SmartPlanet:
- Will radical new flying machine replace helicopters?
- Your own electric airplane for the price of a car
- Next generation high-speed rail: trains that fly
More innovative aircraft:
- Video: Is futuristic Skylon the space shuttle of tomorrow?
- Video: Honda introduces new jet plane
- Video: Piloted aircraft transforms into a spy drone
- Video: The world’s fastest helicopter?
- Video: Jetman soars over Grand Canyon
- Video: Jetpack flies among the clouds, shatters all sorts of records
Jul 19, 2011
Flying cars at best is a retro-concept lingering from the 1930s.There are far more futuristic concepts that never reach implementation than ones that do. The thing that amazes me is the lack of basic understanding of the problem that many such concepts represent. Some people are great engineers - great in their technical profession, but are clueless regarding economic sensitivity and market analysis. Given sufficient discretionary resources these people can produce very interesting solutions to solve relatively insignificant problems - or solutions for problems that don't actually exist. Flying cars seems to be one of those cases and growing more so and not less so. Flying cars lack of applicability has more to do with economics, basic physics, legal restrictions, and real market demand than a lack of functioning technology - of which there has been for decades. The economics, safety, regulatory requirements, and spatial availability will never be there to support an adequate market for flying cars. Flying cars will never be able to compete with the near universal combination ubiquitous commercial air transportation and rental cars. For short distances helicopters and rental cars combinations satisfy much of that market. So the remaining market for flying cars is primarily high discretionary income individuals with a pilot license, high risk profiles, and more money/time on their hands than their brains can effectively utilize. Flying cars will be even less probable in 200 years when cheap high energy/wt. fuels are (based on current technical probability) gone, when air space (assuming there is still a commercial aircraft industry) is even more congested and restricted because of even more people, and in a time when instant communications replace the need for almost all travel. Actually, most travel today is difficult to justify from the comparison of results of face to face in person and face to face online. If two people are in two separate rooms, but each person shares 100% of knowledge (from all senses) that they would have if they stood in the same room together, what advantage does traveling to the same room have? Perhaps teleportation doesn't require transport of an individual, but rather just the 100% of the knowledge gained from teleporting - and can be supplied by just teleporting the knowledge. We're almost at this point technologically today - giving even less need for travel and particularly flying cars. The notion of flying car feasibility beyond curiosity and novel - only works if you are analyzing the problem using 60 year old parameters.
Well done! Thank you very much for professional templates and community edition sesli chat sesli sohbet
Anytime there is discussion about something a bit futuristic, especially if it is being seriously worked on, people come out of the woodwork to exclaim how stupid it is! "If man were meant to fly, he'd have been born with wings!" It may be 200 years off, but a Jetson's-like vehicle will, in all likelihood, someday be common, and our descendants will be laughing at the people of our generation who thought it could never happen.
When did the speed limit get raised to 200 mph? This car may go 820 miles per tank of gas on the ground but it could not at that speed. This would be a serious hazzard.
Wouldn't it be wonderful to fly home, skipping all of the traffic below. to land softly at home in a fraction of the time it would take to drive... Now for the except part; As pointed out, people have a hard time with 2+ wheeled ground vehicles. When I still took the interstate I routinely saw 2 to 4 accident sites per day. It's been proven that people TALKING on a cell phone without a wireless device are just as likely, if not more likely to get into an accident than a drunk driver. Gee lets give them a vehicle that isn't contained by a road, have no regulations, and generally no appropriate safety precautions. It's great to see scientific advances but timelines, and reasonable pros and cons would be useful additions to this article. Including the proposed requirements of ownership, i.e. drivers license and pilots license? Perhaps a sale price in the millions of dollars?
Marvelous, just simply marvelous! It's bad enough having to contend with incompetent drivers on the road. Now, those same idiots are going to be turned loose in the sky. I suppose I'll have to live in a bunker when they start falling from above.
I'm not sure that's a compliment, we all know that you need buyers in order to have a viable product. Most of us do understand there's great interest in the Volt, and concepts like you discuss here. A critical part of the conversation is accessing who is interested and whether they have any money to buy the product. I'm beginning to think the majority of Chevy Volt fans live with their parents, and lack the skills to get a job outside the fast food industry.. and they'll need the US Tax Payers to buy the car for them before they place an order. I'd love to see you cover the Chevy volt sales figures for June and the trend. I keep hearing there are 20,000 in California alone ready to order... why don't these orders translate into sales, or am looking in all the wrong places for positive signs of future sales and a return on >our< investment?
It goes 200 while flying, not while driving. Also, I would rather have people not paying attention while flying 5,000 feet up where there's not thousands of other cars to run into... especially when they have had to get a pilot's license, which is not as automatic as a driver's license.
...if we were to make getting a driver's license 1/4th as difficult as it is to get a pilot's license, we'd reduce traffic accidents by 90% and traffic by at least 1/3rd.
Really something to look forward to...that's scary to have someone who can't remember to use a turnsignal or stay in a lane to be flying overhead.. Probably would text and run into anything that was above 20' AGL.
Sounds like there are two "arguments" focused at the Chevy Volt (versus really the concept of an all electric that can switch to hybrid) in your text. 1) One sounds like an argument in "U.S. Tax Payers" paying for something that is not instantly profitable...gee here of this thing called the Internet that was funded by taxpayers for a long time before becoming profitable/important to the whole world. 2) The sales figures on Volt's that I have seen are that a) they are in such high demand that people are paying 10 to 30 % ABOVE the retail price and that b) production cannot keep up with demand and c) that the U.S. Tax payers are seeing a "return on investment" on the GM ownership due to the stock buy back occuring. Whether or not the bailout should have occured is a worthy discussion, but the innovative focus of the Volt is one of things that is working in GM's favor (and Nissan and Toyota are also looking at what to imitate...which is a nice change). The Nissan Leaf is interesting, but not a plug in/all electric that can also switch to hybrid. Toyota continues to concentrate strictly on hybrid... As for "majority of Volt fans live with their parents" ... wow what a "well reasoned set of thinking" ... while I doubt that it is true, from a logic perspective, or even from an economic perspective, SO WHAT? The unemployment rate for COLLEGE GRADUATES is quite high...recessions and economic downturns hit the younger generation the hardest ALWAYS. If people need to live with their parents to survive, I highly doubt that they are lining up to buy a Volt, which is hardly dirt cheap. Rather, from what I have seen, young people, forced to live with their parents for a variety of reasons, buy small, often used cars, that are cheap. Not a Volt. They may be "fans" but not the ones driving up demand on the car.
Sounds like you've spent no time in the car business. Most people like a Corvette or a Camaro, but they buy the more practical car BECAUSE it's what they need! There are near countless better cars for the money than the Volt.. go ahead, keep smoking that stuff..this car is a loser...