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Flying Car Passes First Flight Test

Soulskill posted more than 5 years ago | from the seeking-new-metaphor-for-future-technology dept.

Transportation 273

waderoush writes "Terrafugia — the Massachusetts company building a 'roadable aircraft' (that's flying car to you and me) — revealed at a press conference Wednesday that the Transition vehicle has been taken aloft for its maiden flight. The craft, which can fly up to 460 miles at 115 mph and then fold up its wings for 65-mph highway driving, was the subject of two hotly debated Slashdot posts on May 8 and May 13 of last year. The company said the first flight took place in Plattsburgh, NY; retired Air Force Colonel Phil Meteer was at the controls."

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273 comments

The future of the past (5, Funny)

MrEricSir (398214) | more than 5 years ago | (#27243675)

Flying cars, robot vacuum cleaners... the future of the mid 60's is getting closer every day!

Re:The future of the past (3, Funny)

2.7182 (819680) | more than 5 years ago | (#27243747)

I want my television-phone!! Oh wait...

Re:The future of the past (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27244983)

aS i live in the uk i can say with confidence that thiS car will take off. why? well all uk govrments think tax. so tax at 17.5% VAT to buy and 12% sales tax NEW LICENCES,NEW DRIVING/FLYING TAX,AND tHATS JUST A STARTEER. A BOG STANDARD CORVETTE COSTS ABOUT $75OOO A BOG STANDARD 3.6 MUSTANG IS $45ooo so i look forward to holidaying in the states and hope my rental comapny has them

I've been patiently waiting for 35 years. (1)

yoder (178161) | more than 5 years ago | (#27243693)

Every time I turn around I see another "flying car" that just can't get off the ground financially or technically.

This one could possibly be different, but I'm just not holding my breath.

Re:I've been patiently waiting for 35 years. (3, Funny)

somersault (912633) | more than 5 years ago | (#27243733)

Every time I turn around I see another "flying car" that just can't get off the ground financially or technically.

That would make a great line in a song, sung in a monotone

Re:I've been patiently waiting for 35 years. (5, Insightful)

eln (21727) | more than 5 years ago | (#27243805)

I think it's a waste of time. The logistics involved with actually having a non-trivial number of these things up in the air over urban areas without mass casualties are just too difficult.

The answer to our traffic woes is probably not flying cars, but rather something like self-driving cars on defined tracks. Most of our traffic problems are caused by people following too closely and overreacting to developments ahead of them (braking harder than necessary, etc), not to mention the general scourge of distracted driving. If the whole process of freeway merging, maintaining safe distance, responding to stimuli outside the vehicle, etc, was handled by an unemotional computer (perhaps interfacing with a central traffic planning computer in more congested areas), things should smooth out.

Of course, we're still years away from that sort of computing power, but various aspects of the self-driving automobile have been under development for years, and we should eventually get there. At any rate, I find the prospect more realistic than the idea of thousands or millions of flying cars zipping around above New York City.

Re:I've been patiently waiting for 35 years. (3, Insightful)

Big Boss (7354) | more than 5 years ago | (#27243893)

The problem with self-driving cars is that they ALL have to be self-driving for it to work properly. I suppose you could designate certain roads as automated only, but how do you enforce it if you do?

I guess you could add sensors of some kind all around to keep the car from hitting other cars that don't report position data. But if even one of them is off calibration by a little bit.... crash. RADAR isn't great, as there just isn't enough space for independent transmitters. LIDAR might work, but has similar problems.

Re:I've been patiently waiting for 35 years. (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27243951)

Managing auto-driving car positioning from a central location is a very bad idea. For this to work realistically the cars need to be able to position themselves independently.

Re:I've been patiently waiting for 35 years. (1)

vertinox (846076) | more than 5 years ago | (#27244181)

The problem with self-driving cars is that they ALL have to be self-driving for it to work properly. I suppose you could designate certain roads as automated only, but how do you enforce it if you do?

I dunno. I guess write them a ticket like they do for every other traffic infraction.

Re:I've been patiently waiting for 35 years. (2, Interesting)

QuantumRiff (120817) | more than 5 years ago | (#27244279)

You have something like a car-pool lane, with very, very steep penalties. (you could even had RFID readers like toll-booths to make sure every mile or so) Couple that with the lower insurance costs for drivers, and it would pick up pretty quick.

Re:I've been patiently waiting for 35 years. (1)

FatAlb3rt (533682) | more than 5 years ago | (#27244369)

GPS, proximity sensors, RFID chips embedded in the middle of the lane. That'll get you started. Then sync up cars in a line, 12 inches off the bumper in front of them.

Re:I've been patiently waiting for 35 years. (1)

Akido37 (1473009) | more than 5 years ago | (#27244859)

Self driving cars, managed by a central computer? It's called a train. (Subways to those of you in major metro areas)

Re:I've been patiently waiting for 35 years. (2, Insightful)

jargon82 (996613) | more than 5 years ago | (#27243921)

I honestly think we are pretty much there with regards to computing power. The problem is taking peoples freedom to drive recklessly away.

Re:I've been patiently waiting for 35 years. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27245155)

The problem is taking peoples freedom to drive recklessly away.

Oh no, how will they ever get along without their ability to kill or injure people.

Re:I've been patiently waiting for 35 years. (3, Interesting)

Narpak (961733) | more than 5 years ago | (#27244009)

Every time I turn around I see another "flying car" that just can't get off the ground financially or technically.

This one could possibly be different, but I'm just not holding my breath.

I think it's a waste of time. The logistics involved with actually having a non-trivial number of these things up in the air over urban areas without mass casualties are just too difficult.

I reckon for flying personal vehicles to be actually feasible you need anti-gravity, a portal powersource capable of powering said anti-gravity-device, and some sort of master control network capable of automating and coordinating all such vehicles in the air to ensure they don't collide (among other things). So I would say the likelihood of personal air vehicles becoming feasible is rather slim at the moment.

Re:I've been patiently waiting for 35 years. (4, Insightful)

petermgreen (876956) | more than 5 years ago | (#27244141)

Indeed, while I think flying cars like this one may find a niche. I don't think they will ever take off on a large scale.

You will still need a pilots license (albiet only a light sport pilot license asusming terrafugia meet thier weight goals). You will still need a registered airfield to take off and land legally so it will only be worth using for longer trips. Finally it is rather expensive ($200000 iirc).

So I don't see there being enough of them in they sky to have a significant impact.

Of course that doesn't mean terrafugia won't be successfull. A small buisness (Which afaict is what terrafugia are) can be perfectly successfull with a niche product.

Re:I've been patiently waiting for 35 years. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27244229)

The ground roads are pretty well shot, but it's still early enough to fully automate air vehicles. If we can get the skies fully computer controlled, that'd take care of a vast number of problems as-is. There would need to be very specific 'landing areas' which could also be automatic, but from there, the person would need to manually drive to their final destination.

I think it's got possibilities.

Re:I've been patiently waiting for 35 years. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27244351)

SkyNet, coming to a Toyota dealer near you in 2010 :p

Re:I've been patiently waiting for 35 years. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27244257)

We're already willing to accept mass casualties for our roads. I'm perfectly willing to accept them for our skies.

Re:I've been patiently waiting for 35 years. (1)

Colin Smith (2679) | more than 5 years ago | (#27244261)

Of course, we're still years away from that sort of computing power

http://www.atsltd.co.uk/ [atsltd.co.uk]

 

Re:I've been patiently waiting for 35 years. (4, Insightful)

eth1 (94901) | more than 5 years ago | (#27244355)

This issue gets brought up every time this thing is mentioned.

It's NOT a replacement for garden-variety cars. It's a replacement for light aircraft that solves the last mile problem and allows for home storage without living on an airport.

Re:I've been patiently waiting for 35 years. (1)

91degrees (207121) | more than 5 years ago | (#27244755)

But such cars have been produced before. You end up with a not so good plane, and a pretty hopeless car. It is by all accounts not cheap, so why is it better than just calling a cab when you get to the airport and paying plane parking fees?

I'm sure there are a few people who fly to a lot of different regional airports that don't have a good taxi service nearby, or people who are just control freaks who insist on driving, but it seems a remarkable small market.

Re:I've been patiently waiting for 35 years. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27244365)

Citation needed.

A horse, while not having human emotions, most certainly "feels" something when you aim it at another horse and try to make it gallop full speed.

I propose the exact opposite of what you suggest. I propose designing a "driver assist" AI that acts much like a horse.

For examples: if the road becomes slippery and wet; the AI will decide to take a potentially self preserving action of lowering the top speed. Or if you try to merge directly into that car in the next lane over while traveling at 75mph, the AI notices there is another "horse" in close proximity and stiffens up the steering to prevent the lateral impact. Maybe if you were too busy scolding obnoxious passengers or fiddling with the audio or climate controls to notice all the break lights up ahead; the AI detects that traffic has halted and begins a calculated deceleration.

$.02

Re:I've been patiently waiting for 35 years. (1)

delirium of disorder (701392) | more than 5 years ago | (#27244383)

The answer to our traffic woes is probably not flying cars, but rather something like self-driving cars on defined tracks.

This has been deployed all over the world, for over 50 years. [wikipedia.org]
Cars are obsolete.

Re:I've been patiently waiting for 35 years. (1)

koiransuklaa (1502579) | more than 5 years ago | (#27245089)

I love rail transport as well, but you are overlooking some of of its downsides. It needs massive amounts of people to work and is infrastructurally very expensive/slow: New lines need to be planned 10 years in advance and any mistakes are costly as hell.

Rail transport won't work without a supporting private transportation network that routes around any bottlenecks in the rail network and balances load.

Re:I've been patiently waiting for 35 years. (2, Insightful)

sycodon (149926) | more than 5 years ago | (#27244451)

Their target market is not the folks who take 45 mins to an hour to drive 5-10 miles to work in 45 rush hour traffic.

More like folks living 25-30 miles from an urban center who fly into the local airport and then take 45 mins to an hour to drive 5-10 miles in rush hour traffic.

Re:I've been patiently waiting for 35 years. (1)

poetmatt (793785) | more than 5 years ago | (#27244599)

Self driving cars on defined tracks? No, we already define where people can drive pretty well, having it be narrowed even further would depend on the implementation.

I guess you are trying to, I don't know, reinvent a railroad? /facepalms, not trying to be ad hominem

Autonomous flight is an easier problem to solve (3, Interesting)

GPS Pilot (3683) | more than 5 years ago | (#27244749)

Everyone worries that the skies will become a deathtrap when flying cars, driven by people without pilots' licenses, hit the market. But the collision-avoidance solution is simple if they're all flying autonomously. In 2009, it's trivial for inexpensive consumer devices to communicate with each other wirelessly. Similarly, flying cars need to broadcast their positions and velocities to all other aircraft within a few km radius (via WiMAX or similar technology).

Then, all it takes are some simple "right of way" rules and a small amount of computing power to compute the slight course adjustments needed to avoid collisions, or even to avoid intersecting another aircraft's wake vortices. This will also eliminate "air lanes," and the fear of them becoming saturated with traffic. All aircraft will simply fly the shortest point-to-point great circle route, except when the computer tells it to deviate to avoid another aircraft, another aircraft's wake vortices, a region of bad weather, or an ADIZ.

Because three-dimensional airspace is so vast, it will be able to accommodate exponentially more traffic than the current "air lanes" concept.

Autonomous flight is a much easier problem to solve than autonomous ground vehicles. A large but simple database will allow the aircraft to avoid obstacles like mountains and tall structures. An autonomous ground vehicle, on the other hand, would need to tackle machine vision problems like discriminating between an actual pedestrian and a picture of human on a bus-stop advertisement.

Re:I've been patiently waiting for 35 years. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27244813)

this is a heinlein story idea - where you can use the highspeed lane, but only under automation. and you can switch to manual control, but it bumps you down to a lower possible max speed and a different lane.

Re:I've been patiently waiting for 35 years. (3, Funny)

Mr2cents (323101) | more than 5 years ago | (#27243851)

I know at least one reporter [youtube.com] that's going to be thrilled...

Re:I've been patiently waiting for 35 years. (5, Insightful)

MozeeToby (1163751) | more than 5 years ago | (#27243855)

To me, this is more of a drive-able airplane than it is a flying car. I know, maybe there isn't any difference but to me a flying car is something that flys which replaces my car. This is something that I can drive on regular roads that replaces my airplane.

It's a different market, a different use, and a very different price point. It might succeed, but personally I still wouldn't call it a successful flying car.

Re:I've been patiently waiting for 35 years. (1)

Onaga (1369777) | more than 5 years ago | (#27243917)

A roadable aircraft is not a flying car despite the implication in the summary. It is meant to be a plane. It is not meant to be a daily commuter that is capable of flight. It is meant to be a plane that can be driven to/from the airfield on regular roadways.

Re:I've been patiently waiting for 35 years. (1)

Whalou (721698) | more than 5 years ago | (#27243953)

This one could possibly be different, but I'm just not holding my breath.

You will probably have to hold your breath since the summary says the car can fly up to 460 miles. Sounds more like a shuttle replacement than a flying car.

Not really what the market wants (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27243717)

I think people are really looking for airable roadcraft.

These guys are making just the opposite.

Driver licensing? (1)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 5 years ago | (#27243723)

It seems like a cool idea, but I bet the licensing requirements are prohibitive.

Re:Driver licensing? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27243853)

That and imagine how dangerous the skies would become. Road traffic is extremely dangerous as it is now imagine thousands of planes flown by people who can barely drive.

Re:Driver licensing? (2, Funny)

element-o.p. (939033) | more than 5 years ago | (#27245079)

I don't have to imagine; I'm a flight instructor.
:D

Re:Driver licensing? (1)

oodaloop (1229816) | more than 5 years ago | (#27244097)

That's a bet you would lose. The FAA has a new license for crafts like these that's much easier to get than a traditional pilot's license. It's the whole reason these vehicles are being built now.

Re:Driver licensing? (1)

petermgreen (876956) | more than 5 years ago | (#27244487)

Afaict assuming terrafugia meet thier design goals and you are in the US (which seems to be thier target market at least to start with, rules elsewhere will of course vary) you will need a "sport pilot" or higher license to fly it.

Looking at wikipedia ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pilot_certification_in_the_United_States#Sport_pilot [wikipedia.org] ) the requirements to get such a license don't seem that onerous. I'd imagine most people who could afford to drop $200K on a terrafugia transistion could afford the instruction needed to get a license.

Re:Driver licensing? (1)

Frank T. Lofaro Jr. (142215) | more than 5 years ago | (#27245037)

From the rules:

Be able to read, speak, write, and understand English

Which is considerably stricter than needed for a driver's license! :)

It's a TRAP! (4, Funny)

SoundGuyNoise (864550) | more than 5 years ago | (#27243745)

Transition® Roadable Aircraft Proof of Concept.

TRAP Concept? Oh, sign me up!

lame movies now have new areas (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27243763)

What was once "I disables his brakes" will go to "I reversed his aileron cables".

Re:lame movies now have new areas (2, Informative)

Jay Maynard (54798) | more than 5 years ago | (#27243875)

Part of the pre-takeoff checklist for every aircraft I've ever seen is "FLIGHT CONTROLS: FREE AND CORRECT". You move the stick and make sure the control surfaces move in the proper direction. It's not just (or even primarily) for detecting sabotage; it's because mechanics have been known to hook cables up backwards during maintenance.

Re:lame movies now have new areas (1)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 5 years ago | (#27244711)

Given that your typical civilian can't even bother to check to see that all four of his tires aren't flat before leaving his driveway, color me skeptical that they will follow a "pre-takeoff checklist" before powering up the flying car.

Re:lame movies now have new areas (1)

Jay Maynard (54798) | more than 5 years ago | (#27244917)

You're assuming that "your typical civilian" would be flying one. This is not the case: it requires at least a sport pilot license. The requirements for that license are substantially the same, for those privileges that are common, to those for the private pilot license. (I've got the test standards right in front of me; I'm in the final phases of preparing for the CFI-Sport Pilot checkride.) Those standards most certainly include using checklists for all phases of flight. If they don't use them, they don't pass.

Re:lame movies now have new areas (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27245017)

If they don't use them, they don't pass.

Yeah, and if you can't parallel park you can't pass your drivers test, so that must be why everybody is an expert parallel parker ;)

Re:lame movies now have new areas (1)

Thumper_SVX (239525) | more than 5 years ago | (#27245055)

Then they'll never get even a sport pilot license... problem solved I think.

Doesn't stop some nimrod getting in one and trying to fly it... but then again, it never stopped anyone from doing that with light aircraft either (and it has happened... just not often)

Re:lame movies now have new areas (1)

robinesque (977170) | more than 5 years ago | (#27244489)

Instead of tying a chain to the bumper you'll tie a chain to the empennage?

Not really a "Flying Car" (4, Informative)

A. B3ttik (1344591) | more than 5 years ago | (#27243795)

This has been beaten to death over and over again, and I thought that, by now, people would understand that this product isn't a Jetson's "Flying Car," but already, with just two comments, we've got someone confused on the subject.

This is not a Jetson's style "Flying Car" for everyone to keep in their driveways. It is a plane that can fold its wings and has enough lights such that it is street legal. It is meant as something for private pilots (with pilot licenses) such that they can store their planes at home and "drive" them to the local airport before taking off on a pleasure flight.

It is NOT meant for people to fly to work after taking off from their garages, merging onto the skyway, and passing some old geezers flying outdated DeLoreans.

It's just a plane that you can also legally 'drive' on the road. That's it.

Re:Not really a "Flying Car" (4, Insightful)

teknopurge (199509) | more than 5 years ago | (#27243825)

We needed a starting-point. This is it.

Re:Not really a "Flying Car" (1)

A. B3ttik (1344591) | more than 5 years ago | (#27243971)

I agree entirely. My comment was specifically targeting the naysayers with comments like "I've wanted a flying car for 30 years! All promises and no delieveries. Why will this be different."

My point is that this _is_ different.

Re:Not really a "Flying Car" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27243877)

I sincerely doubt we will ever be passing old geezers flying outdated DeLoreans.. For that to happen, we'd need to find ways to make over a ton of machine fly at 25 mph.

Re:Not really a "Flying Car" (1)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 5 years ago | (#27244731)

For that to happen, we'd need to find ways to make over a ton of machine fly at 25 mph

Yeah, if only we could figure out [wikipedia.org] how to do that.....

Re:Not really a "Flying Car" (3, Insightful)

eln (21727) | more than 5 years ago | (#27243889)

Nobody is interested in an airplane the super-rich can drive to their villas after their day trip to the Bahamas. Everyone is interested in flying cars. If you put up an article about something that looks like it could someday lead to flying cars, people are going to comment on flying cars and what they would mean and how plausible they are.

Without the flying car connection, this article is more suited for some magazine that sells over-priced crap that no one needs like SkyMall, not Slashdot.

Re:Not really a "Flying Car" (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27244107)

People who own planes are not by any means super-rich.

Most of them don't even own the planes. They take out a loan for them and, because planes hardly depreciate if maintained well, pay very little after selling the plane. If they sell it.

Also, fuck you.

Re:Not really a "Flying Car" (2, Insightful)

A. B3ttik (1344591) | more than 5 years ago | (#27244481)

It IS an innovation in technology... and Slashdot is about Technology.

We have articles on Jetpacks and stuff that only the rich can afford... this is no different.

Re:Not really a "Flying Car" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27244715)

I am a super-rich drivable airplane pilot, you insensitive clod!

Let me see if I got this right (1)

0xdeadbeef (28836) | more than 5 years ago | (#27244075)

What you're saying is... that this is a flying car. Thanks for clearing that up.

Re:Let me see if I got this right (2, Insightful)

themacks (1197889) | more than 5 years ago | (#27245175)

actually i think he's saying that it's a driving plane

Re:Not really a "Flying Car" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27244167)

I have a 100 mile commute. I could see using this as a commuter vehicle. Yeah, I get the whole take off and land at airports bit, but I live near an airport and there is an airport near the office.

Re:Not really a "Flying Car" (1)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 5 years ago | (#27244317)

Back in 2003 I had to travel for work about 120 miles every day (60 miles too and back). I wished I had a flying car every day. I could leave from a small airport in my City land at a small air port at my destination. Drive to the office. I could probably go from from point to point in about 1/2 the time. if I had a flying car (about 1/2 hour travel). I would say something like this would be perfect.

Re:Not really a "Flying Car" (1)

reeherj (472238) | more than 5 years ago | (#27244345)

Excellent point. You also should note that that same pilot could fold up the wings and drive the airplane at thier destination as well, say to a hotel or festival or something without having to rent a car.

It would make private airplane ownership much more enjoyable for actual trips and such.

Nonsense (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27243823)

"Terrafugia -- the Massachusetts company building a 'roadable aircraft' (that's flying car to you and me)

A roadable aircraft (a plane that can use the roads) is not the same thing as a flying car. Just like a laptop that's set up for VOIP is not the same thing as a mobile phone that can run applications. Similarities, yes, but big big differences.

Nifty idea, but marginally too heavy (3, Interesting)

Jay Maynard (54798) | more than 5 years ago | (#27243843)

The video voice-over says that the Terrafugia's empty weight is 890 pounds. With a maximum gross weight of 1320 pounds set by the Light Sport AIrcraft rules, this leaves a useful load of just 430 pounds. Gasoline weighs 6 pounds per gallon. With two real people aboard, it won't have much range...

Re:Nifty idea, but marginally too heavy (2, Interesting)

gfxguy (98788) | more than 5 years ago | (#27244335)

Yeah... unfortunately, the kind of thing I'd really want something like this for is visiting my family in Florida (from Georgia). At 550 miles, it's way over the maximum range of this thing, and I have two kids. And two dogs. And, of course, luggage.

Otherwise I'd buy one of these in a heartbeat. If they took a slightly postdated check, that is.

Re:Nifty idea, but marginally too heavy (1)

Thumper_SVX (239525) | more than 5 years ago | (#27245133)

Nothing stopping you landing en-route and filling up... like a car :)

Honestly, a 550 mile range at 115mph... that's about what I'd expect from an LSA (Light Sport Aircraft); about 4 hours. You measure in fuel burn, not distance, because range in distance can change with wind.

But yeah... the two kids, dogs and luggage... yeah, this isn't your aircraft :)

Re:Nifty idea, but marginally too heavy (1)

slacktide (796664) | more than 5 years ago | (#27244357)

Luckily there is a pretty significant movement to change that the LSA gross weight limit to 1600 lbs. A lot of the current LSAs are payload limited by this regulation, but are structurally capable of 1600 lb MTOW.

Re:Nifty idea, but marginally too heavy (1)

Jay Maynard (54798) | more than 5 years ago | (#27244511)

Not gonna happen. The 1320 pound/600 kg max gross weight limit is something the FAA is dead set on keeping. Yes, it excludes a large number of certificated aircraft - but it was intended to: the goal was to create a market for new airplanes.

Re:Nifty idea, but marginally too heavy (1)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 5 years ago | (#27244769)

this leaves a useful load of just 430 pounds. Gasoline weighs 6 pounds per gallon. With two real people aboard, it won't have much range...

Or just one American ;) *rimshot*

What is the big deal? (0, Troll)

SirGarlon (845873) | more than 5 years ago | (#27243849)

Seriously, I don't understand this Slashdot obsession with flying cars. You would need a pilot's license and really it becomes the same thing as flying an airplane. Even in the highly unlikely event you could find takeoff and landing space for your daily commute, you would still need clearance from an air traffic controller to get airborne. You'd be trading a traffic jam on the road for a traffic jam in the airspace.

Re:What is the big deal? (3, Informative)

oodaloop (1229816) | more than 5 years ago | (#27244083)

No. The FAA has a new license category, I believe called Sport Light. It's easier to get and does not require an air traffic controller. This new license is what has been driving (no pun intended) the production of these new flying cars/roadable aircraft.

Re:What is the big deal? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27244147)

"Even in the highly unlikely event you could find takeoff and landing space for your daily commute, you would still need clearance from an air traffic controller to get airborne."

False. There are hundreds of unmanned airports that are not in any sort of controlled airspace. All you have to do is announce that you're taking off and keep your eyes open. You only need clearance from a tower-controlled airport.

Re:What is the big deal? (2, Informative)

Stele (9443) | more than 5 years ago | (#27244325)

You don't need clearance from anyone to fly an aircraft in uncontrolled airspace (class G - below 700 ft or below 1200 ft near uncontrolled airports).

Further, you can fly VFR in class E (pretty much everywhere except near airports, and below 18000 ft) without any clearance whatsoever. In fact, you are not required to talk to anyone at all if you don't want to.

Re:What is the big deal? (1)

Colonel Korn (1258968) | more than 5 years ago | (#27244841)

You don't need clearance from anyone to fly an aircraft in uncontrolled airspace (class G - below 700 ft or below 1200 ft near uncontrolled airports).

Further, you can fly VFR in class E (pretty much everywhere except near airports, and below 18000 ft) without any clearance whatsoever. In fact, you are not required to talk to anyone at all if you don't want to.

I knew so many airline pilots who died or barely survived crashes because they thought they were too cool to use their radios in their private planes. Anyone not talking to potential local traffic or the local/regional tower is begging for death.

Re:What is the big deal? (3, Insightful)

Jay Maynard (54798) | more than 5 years ago | (#27245039)

Those who don't use their radios are indeed taking unjustified risks...but it's quite common for airplanes not to have radios at all. (Some airplanes don't even have electrical systems.) You can't assume that the pattern is empty just because nobody's talking. You have to look. Depending on the radio is just as foolish as depending solely on your own abilities to see and avoid.

Re:What is the big deal? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27244373)

Seriously, I don't understand this Slashdot obsession with flying cars.

What kind of /. Geek are you? You don't understand were all obsessed with future technology promised to us by the masses that never existed. Where's my personal robot that's what I want to know.

Crash safety? (1)

girlintraining (1395911) | more than 5 years ago | (#27243881)

This thing won't be more than a novelty if it's light aeroframe can't survive an impact with one of those giant SUVs driven by some guy yelling at his girlfriend on a cell phone... You'll be the jelly between two pieces of fiberglass. Plus, until it can land on a public street, and pull into a parking spot, and then take off again on the same street, without violating the speed limit, I don't see it having much practicality to Joe Average.

That said... Good job. We here at Slashdot love seeing what bored engineers are capable of. Especially if it has high speed internet wired into it.

Roads? (1)

ohnotherobots (1448571) | more than 5 years ago | (#27243903)

Where we're going, we don't need roads.

Re:Roads? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27244239)

I'm looking forward to retirement too... can't wait until everything is a road; outdoor markets, sidewalks, neighbors living room...

Hmmm. Don't want one. (2, Funny)

wiredog (43288) | more than 5 years ago | (#27244001)

Think it'd have trouble towing my bass boat.

Re:Hmmm. Don't want one. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27244057)

Think it'd have trouble towing my bass boat.

So, you want the roadable, floatable, aircraft.

If you're driving down the road (2, Insightful)

irright (1369385) | more than 5 years ago | (#27244029)

how much crosswind can it take before you are upside down in the ditch?

The Fifth Element (1)

yumyum (168683) | more than 5 years ago | (#27244053)

Wake me up when the cars can fly like those from The Fifth Element [brianmicklethwait.com]

That's when I want one...

mileage? (1)

onionlee (836083) | more than 5 years ago | (#27244159)

yes... but how is it on mileage?

Ground Effect (1)

MuChild (656741) | more than 5 years ago | (#27244223)

From the videos, it looks like it never gets that high off the ground. Just like the Spruce Goose, this thing might only be flyable due to ground effect. Until they have videos of it getting above 40 feet off of the ground, I will remain skeptical.

Re:Ground Effect (2, Informative)

Sporkinum (655143) | more than 5 years ago | (#27244643)

Supposedly the video is only of the maiden flight. The article said they made several more "real" flights.
One thing that was disconcerting to me though, was the amount of elevator it took to get airborne. That seemed to me like a not well balanced (CG) aircraft.

You want idiots in the air too? (3, Funny)

Midnight Thunder (17205) | more than 5 years ago | (#27244263)

While I am looking forward to a flying car, on the condition it doesn't consume more fuel that the current automobile, I can't wonder who will be driving those things. At least with current aviation you know that people have a pilot's license and have a certain sense of wanting to live, but if I look at some of the drivers around me when I drive, then I can't help wonder whether putting these people at the helm of a flying vehicle would be such a wise thing. Imagine:

normal:
- driving instructor: look left and right before entering the intersection
- ditsy learner: ooh look at the flowers
- driving instructor: watch out for the car!!!!

flying:
- driving instructor: look all around you before crossing the vertical air junction
- ditsy learner: ohh those cars look like ants
- driving instructor: keep your altitude!!!

Re:You want idiots in the air too? (1)

Weaps (642924) | more than 5 years ago | (#27244939)

The FAA regulates everything that has wings, rotors, or rockets so nobody will be flying/driving one of these without at least a sport pilot license.

Me? I have a Private Pilots license and live in one place that happens to have a small airport nearby and work at a place that happens to have a small airport nearby. I could easily see a commute where I drive the flying car to the airport near my house, preflight, spread the wings, take off land at the work airport about six minutes later, fold up the wings and drive the rest of the way to work. If the weather's bad I take the [non-flying] Jeep to work on regular roads.

Currently my job doesn't pay me enough to afford one of these things, but I could foresee getting a job that has a fantastic rate but killer commute on the road that something like this would make possible.

Back to the Future (3, Funny)

ari_j (90255) | more than 5 years ago | (#27244309)

You guys have 6 years to come up with the technology to install a hover conversion on my Delorean. I've been waiting for a long time already, so don't fail me.

Poll: Which flying car would you like to own? (1)

yogibaer (757010) | more than 5 years ago | (#27244321)

Unlimited Opportunities :-): http://www.freakingnews.com/Flying-Cars-Pictures--941.asp [freakingnews.com] . Please lets have a poll about everybody's favorite flying car! Myself, I always have been a fan of Fantomas' flying Citroen DS. Evil Genius travelling in style... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eGDWIRI5j7o [youtube.com]

Pffft (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27244371)

It's no Thunder-Cougar-Falcon-Bird....

Folding Plane, not Flying Car (2, Interesting)

AK Marc (707885) | more than 5 years ago | (#27244389)

If you want a real flying car, try http://www.moller.com/ [moller.com] Sure, they aren't making them and are "four years away from FAA certification (and have been 2 years away from certification for the past 20 years or so, so it's getting worse)." But they are cool, and more like what people think of when talking about flying cars.

Unreasonably high standards?? (1)

Rastl (955935) | more than 5 years ago | (#27244413)

Everyone here will happily accept beta and pre-beta software but as soon as someone comes up with a vehicle that can both drive and fly there's immediate "Unless I can park it in my driveway and ..." flak.

Give it up! This is the first working vehicle of its type! Give them loads of credit for making it work.

Sure, right now it's an expensive toy but then again so were the first personal computers. See any parallels here?

roadable aircraft, not flying car (2, Insightful)

Geoffrey.landis (926948) | more than 5 years ago | (#27244467)

'roadable aircraft' (that's flying car to you and me)

Not quite.

The problem with conventional small aircraft is that once you've flown your Cesna 172 (or whatever) to your destination, you find that you're at an airfield way out of town somewhere, and you don't have a car.

Terrafugia is a solution that, once you land, you have a car. Which would be very handy sometimes!

But it's not really a "flying car" in the science-fiction sense.

Two words (0, Troll)

Rhubarbe (866048) | more than 5 years ago | (#27244553)

Women drivers o_O

Still barking up the wrong tree (3, Informative)

gurps_npc (621217) | more than 5 years ago | (#27244575)

Flying cars already exist. This attempt, like so many others, makes the stupid "we need a fixed wing" assumption.

This makes it a much better aircraft, but as always causes HUGE problems on the ground. It causes huge air-drag, even when foled up. They need to do it the other way. Make a good car that can also fly. Why? Because if flight is your major interest, then you always will need.

Specifically, go the powered parachute route. (Basic, non-street legal version here: http://www.easyflight.com/ [easyflight.com] )

Your wing needs to be packable, not merely foldable - once. Once you do that, make it street legal, like this: http://blog.wired.com/cars/2008/11/the-worlds-firs.html [wired.com]

Yes, it is a pusher prop instead of the more tradional forward based properller. This means the prop is not blocking the driver's view.

But the most important thing is that wing is CHEAP, and when not being used to fly, can get packed away into the trunk of your car.

Re:Still barking up the wrong tree (1)

Jay Maynard (54798) | more than 5 years ago | (#27245081)

Can you get a powered parachute with a Vh of 120 knots? I don't recall seeing any with cruise speeds faster than a car on a freeway.

I Want One (2, Informative)

johnshirley (709044) | more than 5 years ago | (#27244957)

Don't care what naysayers are spouting. I want one. And I'm nowhere near super rich (lower middle class, actually). Sure, I'd need a pilot's license -- they don't just give those things away like they do with driver's licenses.

Sure, the price tag is a bit steep -- about twice the cost of a Cessna 162 (a two-seat light sport plane) yet only 2/3 the cost of a Cessna 172 (4-seat personal aircraft).

It comes down to desire and value.

If you desire something and that thing has value to you, then it's worth having and you work towards it.

Apparently, enough people have the desire and perceive value in it to justify its production.

When does Top Gear get one? (2, Funny)

BubbaDave (1352535) | more than 5 years ago | (#27245059)

I want to see how fast it can do the test course, on the ground, and in the air! Dave
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