DARPA has 58 pages of specifications around what kind of flying car they want.
* flying/driving range of 250 miles
* measure no more than 30 feet long by 8.5′ wide and 9′ high
* perform vertical take-off and landing
* carry four people
* perform unmanned operations
* and be easy enough to control that anyone who can drive a Humvee can also pilot the vehicle.
* Capable of handling small arms fire
* Quick entry and exit
DARPA imagines that the vehicle could use
* hybrid electric drive
* adaptive wing structures
* ducted fan propulsion systems
* and lightweight heavy fuel engines.
The closest vehicle to meeting the DARPA specifications is the Terrafugia Transition. It is a roadable plane that can carry 430 pounds and seats two people and has a flying range of 460 miles and a driving range of 600 miles. The Terrafugia Transition requires a Sports Pilot license which takes 20 hours of training. The Terragugia Transition does not have unmanned capabilities and does not have vertical takeoff capabilities.
Robotic Flying and VTOL Are Key Hurdles to Enable Safe and Easy Flying Cars for the General Population
The UAV and VTOL aspects were discussed in my vision of UAV that carry passengers to revolution city commuting.
When fully deployed Robotic flying and a shift to commuting via air :
* This could eliminate 1.2 million fatalities each year in worldwide car fatalities
* This could increase economic productivity by enabling commuting to be ten times faster and have some safe productive work while in transit
DARPA robotic flying car success could save millions of lives and be worth trillions to the world economy.
The current state of hybrid planes was discussed here as well
The Parajet skycar costs $80,000 and can be ordered now and is scheduling deliveries for late 2010 Parajet flew and drove its prototype from London to Timbuktu in January 2009.
Samson Motors anticipate Switchblade flight testing to begin third quarter 2010, initial kit deliveries will begin approximately one year after completion of the flight testing program. Target price of the kit is $60,000 without engine or avionics, resulting in an overall targeted price of approximately $85,000.
The Transition is flown by licensed pilots in and out of existing local airports. Once on the ground, with the wings folded the vehicle can be driven on any road. The Transition is powered by a certified aircraft engine that runs on unleaded automotive gasoline. Perfect for trips between 100 and 500 miles, the Transition is not designed to replace anyone’s automobile. First customer delivery is anticipated to be in 2011. Categorized as a Light Sport Aircraft, the Transition requires a Sport Pilot certificate to fly. The Transition costs $194,000.
Brian Wang is a Futurist Thought Leader and a popular Science blogger with 1 million readers per month. His blog Nextbigfuture.com is ranked #1 Science News Blog. It covers many disruptive technology and trends including Space, Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, Medicine, Anti-aging Biotechnology, and Nanotechnology.
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