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Terrafugia CEO Responds To "Flying Car" Criticism

kdawson posted more than 6 years ago | from the fly-drive-package dept.

Transportation 233

waderoush writes "The majority of the comments on last week's Slashdot post It's Not a Flying Car — It's A Drivable Airplane were critical, even dismissive, of Terrafugia's work to build a two-passenger airplane with folding wings that's also certified for highway driving. We boiled down these criticisms to the dozen most commonly expressed points, and today we've published responses from Terrafugia CEO Carl Dietrich. While hybrid airplane-automobiles are an old (some would say laughable) idea, Dietrich argues that current materials and avionics technologies finally make the concept feasible."

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frost piss (-1, Troll)

Corwn of Amber (802933) | more than 6 years ago | (#23396392)

yay

Re:frost piss (0, Troll)

Corwn of Amber (802933) | more than 6 years ago | (#23396546)

And now I'll have a visible space to comment in. Go Me!

So. Flying cars? ABOUT GODDAMN TIME. Like it's harder to fly a car than drive one! People are trusted with two tons of plastic and steel, developing power of the order of 10 to 200 kW, and not fly light devices, because it's so dangerous? Gimme a break. And my flying car.

They've been promised for a century and the tech is good enough since 1960. There was that design of two propellers turning in opposite directions with opposed angles, so as to create a blowing air column that takes the "flying saucer" off the ground. Lean right and it goes right, left and it goes left, use gears and injection to control blowing power and thus height.

That's a flying car, and it's been developed and implemented and tested and MADE in the 50s or 60s. Now add a gyroscope to that and a second safety thing and a third, so it's impossible to get it upside-down (resulting in death), to descend too fast (death or broken limbs), or crash in an other flying device (don't go too near any signal all flying devices give off).

That's one possible design. It's not a car, but it's a flying personal transportation device. Near enough for me.

Re:frost piss (5, Funny)

pimpimpim (811140) | more than 6 years ago | (#23396900)

The moment that flying cars become available, I will start a business selling reinforced roofs.

Re:frost piss (5, Insightful)

YrWrstNtmr (564987) | more than 6 years ago | (#23397294)

There was that design of two propellers turning in opposite directions with opposed angles, so as to create a blowing air column that takes the "flying saucer" off the ground.

Two words. Gas mileage. Show me any verticle fan craft, carrying 4 adults, that gets anywhere near the gas mileage of any normal car on the road.
Using engine power to hold the craft up is the antithesis of obtaining reasonable mileage.

Now add a gyroscope to that and a second safety thing and a third, so it's impossible to get it upside-down

Hand-waving those hard parts away doesn't make it any easier.
For any type of non-airport ops, we need 6" precision in a heavy crosswind. Why 6"? That's what you do in your car in a parking lot. Not getting upside down is only part of the problem. You have to come down sometime.

Maintenance. A LOT of cars on the road are spectacularly badly maintained. Do you want those same clowns flying overhead, ready to break down?

Re:frost piss (4, Interesting)

zippthorne (748122) | more than 6 years ago | (#23397884)

Moller claims to get about 18 mpg on ethanol with his M400 volantor, despite it's seemingly fuel-hungry 8 engines. I think he's cheating, though, since he's only actually built a 2-passenger model, and he hasn't flown it off the tether yet, let alone FAA-certified production models.

Re:frost piss (4, Insightful)

Overzeetop (214511) | more than 6 years ago | (#23398030)

I think he's cheating because he's never flown the thing 18 miles to prove it, much less at 350 miles per hour for a full tank of fuel. The proposed fuel economy means nothing if there isn't even a demo model which can demonstrate the actual profile is feasible.

I'd buy one. (1)

y86 (111726) | more than 6 years ago | (#23396396)

It's beats the heck out of waiting in line and taking a shuttle to rent a car at an airport.

Just hit the convert button..... and you are on your way --- SWEET!

Re:I'd buy one. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23396534)

That price would by you a lot of taxi rides to the car rental.

Pfft. (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23396424)

If I wanted a driveable airplane I would duct tape a license plate to my Cessna.

I pity the... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23397836)

...pedestrians who walk in front of you and become hamburger.

I predicted the demise of Tesla in 3 years (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23396438)



The flying car will be dead in 4 years. Dudes: If it flies it requires FAA certification. You may return to your crack pipes now.

The U. S. has collapsed economically and Slashdot covers flying cars. Truly moronic.

Re:I predicted the demise of Tesla in 3 years (0, Offtopic)

Aranykai (1053846) | more than 6 years ago | (#23396486)

Man, for a collapsed economy, we must be doing pretty good.

Im enjoying a nice pizza tonight, and a few cold beers I bought on the way home from work. Ill admit gas and milk has gone up a bit, but its not to the point where I cant go about my daily life. If this is a collapsed economy, I say we leave it collapsed.

Re:I predicted the demise of Tesla in 3 years (1)

jcgf (688310) | more than 6 years ago | (#23396620)

If it drives it requires DMV certification. Why not the FAA too?

re: collapsed (1)

mark72005 (1233572) | more than 6 years ago | (#23396672)

lolasaurus eating a roflanadon

Re:I predicted the demise of Tesla in 3 years (5, Insightful)

ScentCone (795499) | more than 6 years ago | (#23397088)

The U. S. has collapsed economically ...

I'm sorry, but you're confusing what you want with the actual state of affairs. Why you want it to be that way is a little mysterious, but your ability to confuse it with reality suggests just the sort of disconnect that might drive you to want to see a failed economy, the better to justify your world view.

... and Slashdot covers flying cars.

I'll have to check, but I assume you make the same exact complaint when Slashdot talks about new video boards, hair-splitting differences between Linux distros, the space program, squabbles over pirated movies and music, 4D rubik's cubes, what China does with web filtering, sailing robots, and whether or not Google is obscuring people's faces in Street View? Nah, I won't check, because I'm sure you did.

Re:I predicted the demise of Tesla in 3 years (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23398038)

The US economy is collapsing.

1: There is absolutely -ZERO- events causing the gas and oil spikes, which means there is no end to their price climb in sight. Picture what will happen to prices of fuel when some yahoo lights a fart anywhere near an oil refinery. $6-$8 a gallon of regular unleaded is almost a certain thing in most of the US by the end of the year.

2: Congress is absolutely powerless to do anything to stop it, the current administration just plain doesn't care about the American people in any way. Even if Congress try to do something, how can they pay for it? Sell war bonds to China? The US is bankrupt.

3: The dollar is rapidly losing ground against every single currency in the world. The only reason that the dollar buys what it does is because people believe in it... and people are not anymore.

4: There are no solutions to the energy crisis. Nuclear plants are not going to be built anytime soon, nuclear fusion is a joke to keep tokamaks funded, even though there have been -zero- advances in fusion since the laser was invented. Solar is a joke because it costs more to make a solar panel than what energy it ever gets through its useful life. Wind, geothermal, are only useful in rare areas. Pretty much, the US lives and dies on coal and oil... and cars don't burn coal.

5: The mortgage crisis is just the tip of the iceberg. Its only going to be a matter of time before banks start having to be bailed left and right, just like in the 1980s... and unlike the 1980s, there isn't money to fund the FDIC.

6: The present attitude is "Yo, Joe Sixpack... sell your SUV and buy a Prius"... yep, demanding other people conserve, even through most people would be happy to trade cars, just they don't have the cash to. Conservation is a nice feel good thing, but its not an energy policy. Again, like #4, there is -zero- interest by the government in energy, or breakthroughs in alternative energy sources that will provide more than piecemeal help.

The US is just like the USSR was in 1990. Its bankrupt, but the economic collapse hasn't propagated yet, just like (and to use a bad car example), pulling the alternator with the battery in the circuit doesn't mean the vehicle dies immediately, although it will just be a matter of time until the battery dies. What will be the turning point is when the stock market takes a serious dive, and the Dow heads under 7000.

Prove me wrong on this.

Re:I predicted the demise of Tesla in 3 years (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23397824)

This is a story posted by kdawson. Whatever kdawson posts is most likely shit that probably deserves to be seen only for 5 seconds on 4chan before it gets deleted. Remember that whenever the thought "Slashdot is shit today" comes to your mind.

Re:I predicted the demise of Tesla in 3 years (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23397886)

This is a story posted by kdawson. Whatever kdawson posts is most likely shit that probably deserves to be seen only for 5 seconds on 4chan before it gets deleted.
Translation: Oh God I'm too stupid to think of any substantial criticism of the article's content! Save me, Ad Hominem!

If you had R'd TFA... (5, Informative)

Ungrounded Lightning (62228) | more than 6 years ago | (#23397842)

Dudes: If it flies it requires FAA certification. You may return to your crack pipes now.

If you had read the fine article you'd have seen that there were two major components to the answer for "Why now when it has always before been infeasible?":

  1) New materials make it technically feasible.

  2) New FAA regulations, creating a new class of aircraft (Light Sport) that's drastically easier to certify, makes it bureaucratically feasible.

I believe 2) completely answers your objection.

But thank you for playing.

Welcome. (4, Funny)

ahoehn (301327) | more than 6 years ago | (#23396450)

From the Article:

Judging from the comments last week, many commenters hadn't fully absorbed the factual points in the article (to put it politely).

 
Welcome to Slashdot.

Re:Welcome. (0, Redundant)

MozeeToby (1163751) | more than 6 years ago | (#23396668)

You must be new here.

Re:Welcome. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23397032)

I, for one, welcome our fully-absorbed, factually-pointed overlords

Well... (3, Insightful)

LuisAnaya (865769) | more than 6 years ago | (#23396470)

I was thinking about this a couple of nights ago, and the only thing that came up to me was the following:

1. A "drivable airplane" makes sense. In the way that you do not have to pay for hangar space and keep it safe and cozy at home. You just store it at home. You just "drive" the vehicle to the airport, put it together, do your pre-check inspection, fly, do your post-check inspection, fold, drive to destination. It's not the "Jetson's" concept, you have to be a licensed pilot, but it's, in a sense, practical enough for use.

2. Terrfugia's CEO state that the materials are not available to make it practical. I certainly hope so. Folding, flying, driving it's going to put a lot of stress to a lot of parts on the vehicle. Flying or driving is bad enough to cause problems to components, combining both in one vehicle it's going to make matters worst. I sincerely wish them luck.

Re:Well... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23396514)

Your Sunday evenings sound very interesting.

Re:Well... (1)

bugnuts (94678) | more than 6 years ago | (#23396868)

You could park 4 to 6 of these in the same hangar space as one small airplane. You don't even need to be driving it much.

Flying commuters generally already have their vehicles set up at both ends. This could save them a bundle in hangar space, though.

Re:Well... (1)

YrWrstNtmr (564987) | more than 6 years ago | (#23397382)

1. A "drivable airplane" makes sense.

How so? The 'airplane' has to haul around all the crap that makes a car. Bumpers, door guards, drivetrain, suspension, etc, etc. Yes, an aircraft landing gear has to handle quite large impacts. But the ride quality to the end of runway is NOT acceptable for actual driving. Put a car level suspension in a light aircraft and you'll have to remove at least 2 passengers.
The 'car' has to haul around those bigass wings.

Re:Well... (2, Insightful)

IdeaMan (216340) | more than 6 years ago | (#23397804)

The 'car' has to haul around those bigass wings.
Cars like vw beetles haul around surfboards all the time. Airplane wings are designed to be very light. Putting them on the sides where they create a blind spot rather then telescoping or mounting them on top is the part that doesn't make sense to me...

Re:Well... (5, Insightful)

element-o.p. (939033) | more than 6 years ago | (#23397916)

A "drivable airplane" makes sense.

I'm not entirely sure I agree (and yes, I am a pilot). In town, the drag of a car isn't a real big issue; at speeds of less than 30MPH, wind resistance is pretty minimal. At highway speeds of ~60MPH you've quadrupled the drag, and at typical general aviation aircraft speeds of 120MPH, you have 16 times more drag for a given shape and area than at commuter speeds. Consequently, a six foot wide car in town doesn't matter; at flight speeds, the drag of a six foot wide vehicle is pretty significant. That's why the Cessna 152 (a small trainer) is only something like 39 inches wide -- the narrower the fuselage, the less drag. A Cessna 172, a step up from the 152, is only about three inches wider than a 152, and most light single engine airplanes don't get *much* wider than that (I don't recall off-hand how wide a Cessna 206 or 207 -- the biggest single-engine piston airplanes Cessna makes -- are).

What does this have to do with how much sense a drivable airplane makes? Well, the drawings of Terrafugia's design show a vehicle with a cross-section much like a car. It's rather wide, presumably for road stability and passenger comfort. Unfortunately, this makes a poor aircraft design because of the much greater speeds at which even a light sport airplane flies. Terrafugia is claiming some pretty impressive fuel economy numbers for their car, but I'm skeptical. I own a two-place tandem airplane (http://www.gecko-ak.org/N600LW/ [gecko-ak.org] ); it's about as skinny as an airplane can get, meaning its flat-plate area is pretty minimal, and therefore it's drag should be pretty minimal as well. I burn about 4.5 gallons per hour at 60 MPH. That works out to 13 miles per gallon -- better than my Nissan Frontier, but not by much. I sincerely doubt Terrafugia will get 26-27 mpg, as they claim, in a wider vehicle, at twice the speed of my airplane.

unimaginable! (4, Funny)

EllynGeek (824747) | more than 6 years ago | (#23396482)

It's unthinkable that a story posted on /. should ever receive anything but careful, reasoned analysis. This story implies that most /. commenters are knee-jerk hypercritical dorks who don't read anything or like anything. Some people.

Re:unimaginable! (4, Funny)

argent (18001) | more than 6 years ago | (#23396596)

Inconceivable!

Re:Inconceivable! (2, Funny)

WalksOnDirt (704461) | more than 6 years ago | (#23396742)

Unpossible!

You keep using that word (0, Offtopic)

blueZ3 (744446) | more than 6 years ago | (#23397000)

I do not think it means what you think it means

(My name is NOT Inago Montoya)

It's already slashdotted (1)

VampireByte (447578) | more than 6 years ago | (#23396740)

How can we read the article if the site's already down after just 19 comments? This is part of the problem, if everyone waited to read the article then comment, the story would already be a day old.

Re:unimaginable! (-1, Offtopic)

nbert (785663) | more than 6 years ago | (#23396792)

What I like about /. is that people are instantly thinking the obvious. There are other places where it takes hours to explain the general problem and the majority simply isn't informed enough to get it. I don't like to drop names, but it's stunning to read Mac related forums for example (I'm using a Mac myself so I can say this :D )

It's not a club for smart people, but it's a place to discuss basic ideas without slapping marketing statements at each other. Of course there are lots of people I strongly disagree with, but I have a chance to tell them how much I dislike their concept way after the article was on the main-page.

(and please don't mod me for this - I'm writing this because it's the way I feel. It would be rather awkward to state this just for the purpose of gaining mod-points)

Re:unimaginable! (1)

nbert (785663) | more than 6 years ago | (#23397636)

(and please don't mod me for this - I'm writing this because it's the way
could someone mod parent down to restore equilibrium in the universe?

Re:unimaginable! (2, Funny)

Spatial (1235392) | more than 6 years ago | (#23398086)

That movie sucked. No way I'm restoring it.

Re:unimaginable! (1)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | more than 6 years ago | (#23396902)

It's unthinkable that a story posted on /. should ever receive anything but careful, reasoned analysis. This story implies that most /. commenters are knee-jerk hypercritical dorks who don't read anything or like anything. Some people.
Pftft. Make several hundred "flying chair" jokes and suddenly everybody's a comedian.

Unimaginable? I beg to differ, but where'd it go? (4, Insightful)

Animaether (411575) | more than 6 years ago | (#23397162)

Really, we used to - this has been some time ago - have new front page posts about a particularly popular topic and have some of the most insightful comments, often from differing views, rehashed as a starting point for a far more interesting comments thread than the original story's (with dozens of trolls, flamebaits, ill-informed comments, etc. often based on just the title or summary).

In fact, the section is still there. So is the link. Welcome to BackSlash: http://backslash.slashdot.org/ [slashdot.org]

But where the heck did it go? Did the 'editors' realize that "whew boy, this sure is hard work!"? I never found any information on why it seems to have suddenly just stopped dead.
Maybe I missed a comment from an 'editor' somewhere in an unrelated thread, perhaps it's under some catch-all in the FAQ (it's not listed as a section in the "What are the sections for?" item).
What I do know is: I miss it.

Now to see if I'll get a +5 Off-topic..

Re:Unimaginable? I beg to differ, but where'd it g (1)

metlin (258108) | more than 6 years ago | (#23397526)

Interestingly enough, I find a Backslash article [slashdot.org] on the front page right about now.

Maybe the editors *do* read our comments, after all! =)

Re:Unimaginable? I beg to differ, but where'd it g (-1, Offtopic)

RobBebop (947356) | more than 6 years ago | (#23397990)

Off-topic mods for this article are reserved for anybody who mentions soviet Russia, Natalie portman and hot grits, or flying cars. Your helpful discussion of Backslash actually got a +5 Insightful mod.

Re:unimaginable! (2, Funny)

antic (29198) | more than 6 years ago | (#23397578)

It's unthinkable that a story posted on /. should ever receive anything but careful, reasoned analysis. This story implies that most /. commenters are knee-jerk hypercritical dorks who don't read anything or like anything. Some people.

I read the start of your comment and was nodding my head - yes, this should be that sort of place, full of educational and interesting comments, where obvious (especially meta) jokes from people who don't read the article are nowhere to be seen. Then I read the end of your comment and I was still nodding, but just making contact with the desk each time...

Just another energy-wasting toy for the rich (0, Troll)

VampireByte (447578) | more than 6 years ago | (#23396508)

Try solving some real problems that advance society. Building crap just because selfish rich people are wasteful enough to make you wealthy providing them with useless toys is nothing to be proud of.

Re:Just another energy-wasting toy for the rich (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23396584)

Maybe he's not interested in "solving real problems" but making a fun toy. If you want to "advance society" knock yourself out but don't try to force everyone else to do things your way.

Re:Just another energy-wasting toy for the rich (1)

TheLazySci-FiAuthor (1089561) | more than 6 years ago | (#23396796)

Maybe he's not interested in "solving real problems" but making a fun toy. If you want to "advance society" knock yourself out but don't try to force everyone else to do things your way.
Agreed.

Sometimes you just want to make a fun, electronic device which can help with the bills and on which you can play games and send funny pictures to your friends.

We all know that toy did nothing to 'advance society'

btw - I vow to never reply to a troll like grandparent again (even as grandchild, and even in support of good responses as here), although sometimes the moronically obvious statement must be made, just to get it out there, and it's nice to know slashdot has so many individuals qualified to make such statements.

But making everyone else do things their way... (1)

Ungrounded Lightning (62228) | more than 6 years ago | (#23397904)

Maybe he's not interested in "solving real problems" but making a fun toy. If you want to "advance society" knock yourself out but don't try to force everyone else to do things your way.

But making everyone else do things their way is how people who claim to be "advancing society" have their fun: using the rest of us as their toys.

And they consider it necessary. After all, "society" is everybody (except when it's "everybody but YOU"). To "advance" it they have to change the behavior of its members. Of course they change it to be more in line with what they consider "advanced".

If the poor, benighted people were happy doing things in a "less advanced" but more self-directed way, tough!

Re:Just another energy-wasting toy for the rich (4, Interesting)

WrongMonkey (1027334) | more than 6 years ago | (#23396594)

The same thing was said about the automobile, the telephone, etc. etc.

Re:Just another energy-wasting toy for the rich (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23396728)

Got cites?

Didn't think so.

Re:Just another energy-wasting toy for the rich (5, Insightful)

dgatwood (11270) | more than 6 years ago | (#23397052)

From http://www.audiouk.com/vintage/telephone.htm [audiouk.com]

Bell's "speaking telephone" was not universally welcomed. Some people dismissed it as a scientific toy of little value. Others saw it as an invasion of privacy. However, the telephone began to make its way into society, catching the public imagination.

From http://www.evancarmichael.com/Famous-Entrepreneurs/559/Lesson-1-Stick-With-It.html [evancarmichael.com]

"Failure is only the opportunity more intelligently to being again," said Ford. "One who fears the future, who fears failure, limits his activities." Even before Ford founded his own motor company, his numerous experiments often led him down the path of failure. Working in a small wooden shack next to his farmhouse, Ford spent years attempting to perfect his automobile design. In one such case, Ford built a steam car that did successfully propel itself, but its kerosene-heated boiler proved too dangerous for it to be driven. "But, I did not give up the idea of a horseless carriage," he said, which at first was considered "merely a freak notion and many wise people explained with particularity why it could never be more than a toy."

Next clueless AC response?

Re:Just another energy-wasting toy for the rich (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23396800)

please provide link or shens

Re:Just another energy-wasting toy for the rich (1)

aztektum (170569) | more than 6 years ago | (#23396854)

PICS! or it didnt happen!!!!1

oh wait

Re:Just another energy-wasting toy for the rich (3, Insightful)

Duradin (1261418) | more than 6 years ago | (#23396600)

The poor generally can't afford any sort of cutting edge research.

We (the masses) can benefit from the wastefulness of the rich and the advances in technology their decadent lifestyle demands.

(Cars were for the rich initially. As were TVs. As were computers. As were LCD watches. etc., etc.)

Re:Just another energy-wasting toy for the rich (4, Insightful)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 6 years ago | (#23397652)

REally? The RICH like to tout that their home automation systems save energy. I am a Crestron programmer, I design, install and program the most expensive systems for the upper rich. My sales force use the bullshit line that it saves energy and all the other crap. In reality it does not. The soft start (2 second fade on or off) that the rich people so adore and the underlying technology is 100% incompatible with efficient lighting systems. CFL lamps do not work in a Crestron,Vantage or lutron systems (No X10 and the crap you buy at "smarthome" is NOT home automation.) Most of the modules/switches, if it's a retrofit, consume 12-15 watts in the off state EACH! A typical small 3400 sq foot summer cottage (Yes that is small to these people) that has automation will have a $100.00 a month electric bill with everything turned off and set for the "away for the winter" mode. To these people $4.00 a gallon gas is not even a issue worth talking about. The current 10,000 SQ foot home we are finishing has 3 200amp electric services coming into the main home to meet it's needs. I am controlling 11,000 watts of lighting. Yes LIGHTING not equipment but just the freaking lights and every one of those will have a good old 60-80Watt tungsten element light bulb. My equipment racks will use 15 of the 20 amps it is given 24/7.

Energy is incredibly dirt cheap to the rich. They dont want hybrids, they want a sexy exclusive car with 1000hp. (Bugatti Veryon) They want a comfortable estate with expanses of elegant green grass that takes a ton of water to keep green. and they burn more electricity in their home than what 10 homes use.

Energy or transportation efficiency does not come from the toys of the rich. These innovations come from scientists, entrepreneurs, and yes some of the rich that want to give back to society by financing grand and foreward ideas. Like the New york subway, Space Ship 1, etc....

Done even think that the rich are playing with high efficiency items and they will trickle down. They dont. They play with their exclusive devices and then sometimes finance efficient things.

Re:Just another energy-wasting toy for the rich (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23397950)

Energy or transportation efficiency does not come from the toys of the rich.
Really? Where do they come from? Oh, I see you're about to tell us. Let's see...

These innovations come from scientists (funded by the rich), entrepreneurs (AKA the rich), and yes some of the rich that want to give back to society by financing grand and foreward ideas

So it DOES come from the rich, and your little lighting anecdote completely fails to prove your sweeping generalization. So congratulations on proving beyond all possible doubt that you are the biggest idiot in history.

Re:Just another energy-wasting toy for the rich (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23398090)

And you dont have the balls to say any of that.

He did you pussy fuck. plus you are WRONG, he is RIGHT. and you hate it.

Re:Just another energy-wasting toy for the rich (1)

Culture20 (968837) | more than 6 years ago | (#23397910)

As were LCD watches.
Oh my gosh, I just realized how advanced we really are now; no one buys LCD watches any more. Galactic Civilization, here we come!

Re:Just another energy-wasting toy for the rich (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23396602)

On fuel efficiency: their quoted estimate of 27.5mpg in the air would place it ahead of 95+% of cars on the road today in getting from point A to point B, since there's rarely an optimal, straight-line, traffic free highway between where you are and where you want to be. (Yes, you would have to have airports at each end, but general aviation airports are amazingly common.)

As for the rich part...well, nobody is claiming otherwise.

Re:Just another energy-wasting toy for the rich (1)

slashname3 (739398) | more than 6 years ago | (#23397840)

They claim to use super unleaded gas. Was that before or after they put 10% ethanol in the gas? I suspect they won't get the performance they think out of the engine with such a mixture. This not only will impact the MPG but also the load capacity that the plane can carry in flight.

Re:Just another energy-wasting toy for the rich (1)

zippthorne (748122) | more than 6 years ago | (#23397930)

What even IS super unleaded gas? Is it gas whose lead content is "really, really low?" Or is it "premium" gas (which is actually an anti-knock formulation for poorly designed or aging vehicles, but labeled premium to make people think it's "better")?

Re:Just another energy-wasting toy for the rich (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23397962)

Premium gas has a higher octane content than regular. It is for cars with a higher compression ratio, not "poorly designed or aging vehicles."

Comparing apples to oranges (1)

VampireByte (447578) | more than 6 years ago | (#23398012)

Not a good comparison. Those cars typically seat four adults. This thing seats 2 (read the older article on this topic). Two seater cars (other than sports cars, again, toys for the rich) get much better than 27.5 mpg. The Honda Insight is a two seater hybrid getting 60 mpg city / 66 highway.

Re:Just another energy-wasting toy for the rich (0, Flamebait)

jcgf (688310) | more than 6 years ago | (#23396684)

Instead of bitching about the rich, why don't you go out and get rich yourself? Either that or go and eat some cheese as it would go well with your whine.

Re:Just another energy-wasting toy for the rich (0, Flamebait)

marxmarv (30295) | more than 6 years ago | (#23397188)

Getting rich does not increase the amount of low-entropy energy sources. Clearly you are no smarter than yeast.

Re:Just another energy-wasting toy for the rich (4, Funny)

Gat0r30y (957941) | more than 6 years ago | (#23396716)

Building crap just because selfish rich people are wasteful enough to make you wealthy providing them with useless toys is nothing to be proud of.
- But it is the American way!

Re:Just another energy-wasting toy for the rich (2, Insightful)

bugnuts (94678) | more than 6 years ago | (#23396838)

Try solving some real problems that advance society. Building crap just because selfish rich people are wasteful enough to make you wealthy providing them with useless toys is nothing to be proud of.
... and what did you do today to solve real problems that advance society?

Did you do some aerospace engineering?

Composite design?

Impact resistant deformable bumpers that are aerodynamic?

I can imagine you grunting that same thing to the guy inventing the wheel, instead of sharpening a pointed stick like you think he should be doing.

Re:Just another energy-wasting toy for the rich (5, Insightful)

pimpimpim (811140) | more than 6 years ago | (#23397044)

I earn my living trying to add my little contribution to advance society through material science, and I, for one, welcome our selfish rich people overlords.

I welcome the rich pensioners that bought Mercedes cars with airbags in the 80's, so that development by Mercedes could be financed and now you get life-saving airbag in even the smallest cars.

I welcome the yuppies that bought the first aluminum bikes, costing probably several thousand dollars back then, but now anyone can have a bike that is light and doesn't rust.

I welcome the showoffs that wanted a mobile phone in the early 90s, so now wireless technology is cheap enough to be used in third world countries, and get people connected.

Should I go on? Advances, especially in materials, are often sustainable because of some marginal hobbies of rich people. They want the lightest and strongest, even when it is actually not needed for their cause (do fishing rods really need to be made out of carbon-fiber?). But the amount of money that they want to invest can keep small innovative companies alive. In the end, we all win.

Re:Just another energy-wasting toy for the rich (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23397846)

Airbags were available in GM and Ford cars in the late 70's. Everything you are "thankful for" was available to the common guy at a decent price way before you knew it existed.

The rich did not have it. The common guy had it, we just did not want it back then. you have them now because the cost of it is rolled into the price of your car. if you could delete the airbag system your car's price would drop by $1500.00 and there are many people that WOULD delete it. I personally make sure I dont get cars with Antilock brakes. But then I know how to drive and antilock are for those that dont.

Re:Just another energy-wasting toy for the rich (1)

marxmarv (30295) | more than 6 years ago | (#23397230)

Try solving some real problems that advance society. Building crap just because selfish rich people are wasteful enough to make you wealthy providing them with useless toys is nothing to be proud of.
... and what did you do today to solve real problems that advance society?
Personally, I'm just about to solve real problems and advance society by walking to the supermarket.

Re:Just another energy-wasting toy for the rich (1)

c6gunner (950153) | more than 6 years ago | (#23397722)

Personally, I'm just about to solve real problems and advance society by walking to the supermarket.


Walking advances society? Goddamn! If you had told me this a couple months ago, I could have had one hell of a tax write-off!

Re:Just another energy-wasting toy for the rich (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23397736)

Personally, I'm just about to solve real problems and advance society by walking to the supermarket.
Solve? Lessen the impact of food consumption by an imperceptible amount you mean? Since you said supermarket I assume that much of the food was likely produced half way around the world and comes with multiple layers of packaging...

Re:Just another energy-wasting toy for the rich (1)

Scrameustache (459504) | more than 6 years ago | (#23396912)

selfish rich people are wasteful enough to make you wealthy providing them with useless toys is nothing to be proud of.

But a never-was making fun of someone who built a fraking transformer car-plane (for crying out loud!), he's got something to be proud of. He used someone elses' site to put down someone elses' work! What a champion! Let's build him a statue.

Re:Just another energy-wasting toy for the rich (1)

SoupIsGoodFood_42 (521389) | more than 6 years ago | (#23397216)

And what problems are you helping solve in order to advance society?

Re:Just another energy-wasting toy for the rich (3, Informative)

legutierr (1199887) | more than 6 years ago | (#23397678)

You've got it wrong. This flying car ain't nothing. THIS [bugatti.com] is a REAL energy-wasting toy for the rich. $1 million, 5.8 mpg city, and 250 mph top speed? The fact that it even exists is a sin (but you have to admit, it is beautiful).

RE the flying car, it's actually much more reasonable than most other private planes, for which the Transition's $150k price tag is really bargain-basement (for a new plane). A new Cessna 172 is around $250k. And this particular model has a number of money-saving features compared to other light-sport aircraft; specifically, it runs on ordinary super-unleaded gas, it should get ~27 mpg while in the air, and most importantly, it doesn't need to be hangared, which can cost upwards of $500/month in some airports.

If they can pull off the engineering, I could see these guys having a good, stable business selling a couple hundred planes a year (which is about what other LSA manufacturers do). If they hit their price point, there will be good demand.

Re:Just another energy-wasting toy for the rich (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23397720)

wouldn't killing off all the poor and homeless advance society by weeding out the weak? poor people are generally poor because they're lazy or crazy, both of which our species (or any species) can do without.

Gay Nigger Goatse (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23396530)

Gay Nigger Goatse [twofo.co.uk]

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whatever, good questions (4, Insightful)

edn4 (1214790) | more than 6 years ago | (#23396682)

while I didn't read the original article, the slashdot concerns made for an interesting and relevant interview... I say good job slashdot

Re:whatever, good questions (2, Interesting)

TheLazySci-FiAuthor (1089561) | more than 6 years ago | (#23396738)

while I didn't read the original article, the slashdot concerns made for an interesting and relevant interview... I say good job slashdot
A good point you make, actually. Strong adversity to an idea exerts a selective pressure. Much as the harsh and competitive environment of Africa did spawn the most successful mammals, so too might slashdot spawn successful technologies.

I wonder (or wander offtopic slightly), has Africa any invasive species?

Re:whatever, good questions (3, Funny)

dgatwood (11270) | more than 6 years ago | (#23397112)

I wonder (or wander offtopic slightly), has Africa any invasive species?

Besides people? I can't count how many invasions there have been in Africa (and everywhere else, for that matter) over the past few centuries. :-D

Re:whatever, good questions (1)

Ungrounded Lightning (62228) | more than 6 years ago | (#23397952)

Strong adversity to an idea exerts a selective pressure. Much as the harsh and competitive environment of Africa did spawn the most successful mammals, so too might slashdot spawn successful technologies.

Or at least help evolve PR statements to promote the investment and sales necessary to turn a functionally successful technology into a marketplace success. B-)

mod 0Down (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23396712)

Mire of decay, corpse turned over successes with the hear you. Also, if NetBSD posts on to this. For halt. Even Emacs of the above ones in software FreeBSD showed Of a solid dose which don't use the is wiped off and empire in decline, has ground to a TO GET SOME EYE Users. Surprise any doubt: FreeBSD SURPRISE TO THE to yet anothEr [gay-sex-access.com]? world. GNAA members the 4olitical mess move forward, Trying to dissect and what supplies here, please do by fundamental SHIT-FILLED, as those non gay, case you want to give BSD credit

RTFA (0, Redundant)

Mab_Mass (903149) | more than 6 years ago | (#23396732)

Judging from the comments last week, many commenters hadn't fully absorbed the factual points in the article (to put it politely).

I, for one, am shocked that /.ers didn't fully read the article before posting.

Shocked.

Still waiting for my jet powered wing suit. (1)

BlueshiftVFX (1158033) | more than 6 years ago | (#23396840)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eS2rjcVcaqQ [youtube.com]

Just need to make it powerful enough to climb aswell, as it is now it can only prolong your fall.

Re:Still waiting for my jet powered wing suit. (1)

Ungrounded Lightning (62228) | more than 6 years ago | (#23398042)

Just need to make it powerful enough to climb aswell, as it is now it can only prolong your fall.

It's there now.

It appears that this one was more than powerful enough to climb. He could have proved it by climbing back up and overflying his starting point (if he had enough fuel). Instead he just used it to fly level until he ran out of fuel. That says he had at least as much thrust as drag, which effectively means he had thrust to spare for climbing (since these things never match exactly).

Notice how rapidly he builds up speed and vanishes into the distance. You can easily trade that velocity for altitude just by pulling up slightly - then level out and build more if you trade it away faster than the jets replenish it.

But why does a car need to convert to a plance (1)

91degrees (207121) | more than 6 years ago | (#23396932)

Okay. I'm convinced that there is a small market for a plane that you can drive from the airport to your destination. Seems it would make as much sense to have removable wings as foldable wings, and be a lot simpler.

Then again, a taxi is probably kinda convenient as well.

Re:But why does a car need to convert to a plance (1)

mdarksbane (587589) | more than 6 years ago | (#23397068)

Apparently you live somewhere with reasonable taxi service.

Flying small aircraft like this for fun and convenience, you land in a lot of one strip airfields with one guy, a radio, and a single bathroom. You'll have to wait as long as your flight for a cab driver to come out to meet you.

I can see this being quite useful for people who want to use their pilot's license to travel wherever they want like this.

Re:But why does a car need to convert to a plance (1)

Snad (719864) | more than 6 years ago | (#23397680)

Removable wings assume you are leaving from the airport you landed at - since you would, presumably, be removing the wings and storing them at the airport otherwise there's no real advantage.

At least with foldable wings you can land at one airport, take a bit of a tourist trip in your car, and depart from another one without having to backtrack.

But will it work? (4, Insightful)

joggle (594025) | more than 6 years ago | (#23396942)

That's really all that matters. It doesn't take any money and hardly any skill to make a nice animation of an airplane with folding wings, but to actually build one and fly it, that's entirely different.

I'm looking forward to the performance of the flying prototype. I wish them good luck on making it and flying it to Oshkosh this year. If they make it to Oshkosh even without meeting all of their planned specs I expect them to make money for years since this really does fit a niche that no other vehicle does. While they'll have plenty of revenue, hopefully they'll be profitable too.

No no no.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23397896)

Thats not the question.. The question is.. But will it BLEND?!

solves the hangar space problem (5, Insightful)

wreave (1282730) | more than 6 years ago | (#23396962)

Great response from Xconomy. The need for an aircraft that can be used for limited driving is real. Some GA (general aviation) airports have very limited and/or very expensive hangar space. In fact, some airports have no available hangar space, in part because companies lease hangar space and use it for business operations rather than aircraft storage. In CA a few years ago, small aircraft were forced out of a hangar so it could be leased to a company that used it for business operations. That's still not right, but at least with the ability to park their airplanes at home and drive to the airport, small aircraft pilots still have options. At the other end, if you're traveling point-to-point, the ability to skip car rental and use your airplane might be an option as well. Obviously, a driveable airplane would be designed for short-distance driving. It's not a car replacement by any stretch of the imagination. (Yes, I am a certificated pilot.)

Re:solves the hangar space problem (1)

Zak3056 (69287) | more than 6 years ago | (#23397844)

I really shudder at the thought of something like this. It's scary enough what GA aircraft can be subject to at airports, but can you imagine trusting your $150,000 light aircraft to the mercies of rush hour traffic? You're a braver man than I am...

The most important question, though... (1)

jwriney (16598) | more than 6 years ago | (#23397086)

is why they decided to make the thing so unspeakably, shit-hammeringly ugly.

According to the old aviator adage, "If it looks good, it flies good," this thing will fly about as well as a charred Strawberry Pop-Tart.

Re:The most important question, though... (0, Flamebait)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 6 years ago | (#23397292)

Agreed, they could have at least made it look like an SUV.. that thing looks like it is made for a European market.

Half of one, 6 dozen of another (1)

randmcnatt (1236446) | more than 6 years ago | (#23397122)

Aircraft make lousy cars and boats; boats make lousy cars and aircraft; cars make lousy boats and aircraft. And none of them make good helicopters.

Re:Half of one, 6 dozen of another (1)

Lanoitarus (732808) | more than 6 years ago | (#23397410)

"Aircraft make lousy cars and boats ... And none of them make good helicopters."

Yeah, and helicopters don't make good aircraft! Wait.... ;)

When is a car not a car.... (2, Insightful)

fermion (181285) | more than 6 years ago | (#23397290)

When it is a living room.

No one thought there was a problem building a living room car that every one can afford. Many people still do not. To many people, the living room car is a reasonable and necessary item. Many even invest in tricking out their living room car with full entertainment centers. The benefits are clear. So much time is spent in a car, wouldn't it be great to have all the comforts of a living room. A beer, a tv, a phone. Room to spread out, get conformable, even made engage in intimate relations. And there is little to show that this is a bad thing. The drive is more conformable. Oil prices are up, which is good thing unless one is stupid enough to live in an oil poor region. General safety is up, unless one is stupid enough to drive a car that is not a living room.

Reading through the summary and responses there seems to be this same air of uncertainty that existed when the auto manufacturers were using a loophole in a law so that farmers could continue to farm to provide cheap inefficient cars to the masses. There is nothing particularly wrong with it. There is no reason why a person who can afford it should not have a aircar, or a land yacht, or anything else they think they need to be happy. However, such things do have long term effect on the human condition. Speaking personally, there are already severe safety issues on my street dealing with land yachts that they streets are too narrow to accommodate, especially at the speeds that these drivers like to travel. I can imagine somebody buying one of these, and trying to land. At the very least, i would expect a lawsuit demanding that we cut down the trees and pave the front yards to accommodate such planes. And don't laugh. Similar lawsuits have been filed as people wish to reclaim overgrown land for their big houses and big cars.

landing places (2, Insightful)

alrudd1287 (1288914) | more than 6 years ago | (#23397334)

as a pilot, i love the idea of being able to fly into a tiny strip by the beach and then drive the few miles to the nearby town. what i want to know is what stops someone from landing on a country road somewhere and then folding up their plane and saying 'oh no officer, i drove here'? there are plenty of roads that are landable around.

Flying car a great idea! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23397398)

Once all training is out of the way, for safety reasons the craft would no be allowed to go into plane mode in populated areas. So one would have to drive to a 'take off' zone and fly away. and if someone was allready flying, and tryed to fly into a populated area, the computer would take over and fly them away. yes, it is just that simple.

Thanks for the response (5, Insightful)

AeroIllini (726211) | more than 6 years ago | (#23397424)

I'd like to take the opportunity to thank Carl for his well thought-out response. It's not every day that busy entrepreneurial CEOs take time out of their schedules to address the unwashed internet masses.

I think this project has a lot of potential. I'm always surprised at the attitude people have that "well, I wouldn't buy it, therefore it's not a good product." News flash, folks: there are market segments you are not a part of. Just because not everyone would buy something doesn't mean no one will. Judging from the number of preorders this has gotten (and knowing many general aviation pilots who would leap at an opportunity to own something like this), I would say it has been very well received.

And he's right about the timing. While carbon fiber technology has existed for a long time now, it is just now gaining traction in general-purpose manufacturing, and the economies of scale are bringing the price down to the point where products can be built with it for roughly the same cost as some other materials. The convergence of affordable composite manufacturing and a new type of sport-plane license have finally made this type of vehicle possible.

The licensing programs for general aviation are much more strict than they are for automobiles. If this vehicle inspires regular car drivers to get their VFR licenses, I suspect the training will also make them better drivers.

However, I don't envy the cost of Terrafugia's product certification program. This vehicle needs to be certified to both FAA and NHTSA standards, which aircraft and automobile companies spend many millions on separately, just for the paperwork alone. Godspeed to the certification team!

Re:Thanks for the response (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23398096)

For security, the MD5 hash of this message and sig is 09f911029d74e35bd84156c5635688c0.
% MD5SUM msg
8a7844f4466a355b388b6babd084f6f8c

Run in cygwin but I tested it with dos2unix and got the same checksum.

Phantom 2 With Wings! (1)

Vampyre_Dark (630787) | more than 6 years ago | (#23397448)

This reminds me a lot of the Phantom. A lot of big talk, and low quality 3D renders. They spend all their time trying to convince you that it's real, and 0% of the time doing anything to actually make it a reality.

However, you can pre-order one! Just ask all their investors. The only thing that will fly here, is their money!

Walk around inspections (2, Insightful)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 6 years ago | (#23398000)

The article mentions walk around inspections. He talks these up and I've heard other pilots do this too. I'm sure it is a good thing to do, if you fly infrequently. If you're flying much more often and that really is the point of this vehicle, to get pilots flying more, then a visual inspection is just "eyeballing" .. you're going to get complacent and miss things. With today's technology is there really any need? Even light planes can have a sensor array network with computer analysis of the sensor data giving a green light to fly or not. Aircraft is so behind the times in this way. Even the big commercial operators get by with people visually inspecting the plane.

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