Thinking Tech

BiPod flying car works like a Chevy Volt

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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.

(via Wired)

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Tuan Nguyen

Contributing Editor

Contributing Editor Tuan C. Nguyen is a freelance science journalist based in New York City. He has written for the U.S. News and World Report, Fox News, MSNBC, ABC News, AOL, Yahoo! News and LiveScience. Formerly, he was reporter and producer for the technology section of ABCNews.com. He holds degrees from the University of California Los Angeles and the City University of New York's Graduate School of Journalism. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure