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DARPA Kick-Starts Flying Car Program

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 4 years ago | from the finally-someone-makes-good dept.

The Military 136

coondoggie writes to share that DARPA is finally trying to make good on the promise of flying cars for our future with the new "Transformer" (TX) project. "DARPA said the vehicle will need to be able to drive on prepared surface and light off-road conditions, as well as support Vertical Takeoff and Landing (VTOL) features. The TX will also support range and speed efficiencies that will allow for missions to be performed on a single tank of fuel. DARPA said the TX will 'provide the flexibility to adapt to traditional and asymmetric threats by providing the operator unimpeded movement over difficult terrain. In addition, transportation is no longer restricted to trafficable terrain that tends to makes movement predictable.'"

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136 comments

What do they know? (4, Funny)

migla (1099771) | more than 4 years ago | (#30647160)

Darpa schmarpa!

Whatever happened to that DARPANET they used to have? Losers.

Re:What do they know? (2, Interesting)

Z00L00K (682162) | more than 4 years ago | (#30647262)

This will probably be something that's only for military use of some kind.

But I doubt that they can get decent economy from it. The fuel consumption of air cars is one big disadvantage - and the ability to carry a decent payload another.

They would better research antigravity first.

Re:What do they know? (3, Interesting)

GooberToo (74388) | more than 4 years ago | (#30647506)

Many small aircraft get as good, if not better, than many SUVs and at 2-3 times the speed while carrying one to four people and a small amount of luggage.

The only hard part of the requirements is that it be a VTOL aircraft which will significantly affect the design, performance, and practicality. If they changed their requirements from VTOL to STOL of less than 1000 feet, the designs are likely to offer vastly superior capabilities.

Mass-Market Air Car, an Impossible Dream Unless... (1)

Louis Savain (65843) | more than 4 years ago | (#30647972)

Anybody who thinks that using current propulsion systems (propellers, jets, rockets, etc.) as a viable technology for a levitating air (or space) vehicle is honking the clueless pipe, in my opinion. As you mentioned, high fuel consumption is big disadvantage. Also, they still would have to land and take off in designated areas for questions of safety and health (nobody wants to breathe all that dust and exhaust fumes). Piloting an air car is, by its nature, a dangerous proposition. So much so, that any personal air car that is not 100% self-piloting is out of the question for mass adoption. This would increase the cost exponentially. In the end, you would end up with an expensive, dangerous and fairly useless contraption. Eventually, you realize that the best you can do is no better than something that is already here: the helicopter.

But who says air car dreamers are forever stuck with a dangerous and crippling beast fastened to their backs? Who says that current propellant-based propulsion systems are all there is? Imagine if we had a transportation technology that made it possible to travel from Earth to Mars in hours or from New York City to Beijing in minutes. You may think this is impossible but, in that case, the air car will remain an eternal dream and space colonization and exploitation will forever remain primitive and overly expensive and dangerous.

The space propulsion and ground and air transportation industries must look beyond their current understanding of physics if they are to come out of the rut they are stuck in. It's obvious that current physics is not going to solve this problem anytime soon. Physicists must retrace their steps and reevaluate their fundamental assumptions and practices to uncover a solution.

Our understanding of motion is a case in point. Every physicist seems to be under the impression that inertial motion is uncaused; two bodies in relative motion remain in motion for no reason, as if by magic. But what if this is not true? What if Aristotle was right about the causality of motion? What if there is something (some form of energy) in the "vacuum" that acts as a causal substrate for motion? My point is that a correct and complete understanding of the true nature of motion would, without a doubt, uncover new avenues of research that would revolutionize transportation. NASA and Darpa should promote as many fringe avenues of research as possible, in my opinion, regardless of their expected payoffs. Nobody is going to win the lotto if nobody buys a ticket.

Physics: The Problem with Motion [blogspot.com]

Re:Mass-Market Air Car, an Impossible Dream Unless (1)

fractoid (1076465) | more than 4 years ago | (#30650928)

I would like to subscribe to your newsletter, if only for the reason that "it would be cool if it were true". And hey, maybe it is!

Re:What do they know? (4, Informative)

smellsofbikes (890263) | more than 4 years ago | (#30648232)

No kidding. The KR2 [fly-kr.com] can do 180 mph at 50 miles per gallon. Of course, it does this by having the internal volume of a refrigerator rather than a bathroom, like most SUV's.

The ADI Stallion homebuilt [aircraftdesigns.com] is more efficient than a 747, as regards fuel spent per person carried, and if you're willing to only carry 2 people rather than 6, you can take along a motorcycle as well, at 230mph, while still using less gas than many larger SUV's.

However, for the VTOL demands, maybe they should consider an autogyro with a prerotator like the Carter Copter [wikipedia.org] or several others, that can manage vertical takeoff and landing (and has the happy side-effect that it flies the same after an engine failure as before, except its climbing capability is severely limited.)

Re:What do they know? (1)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 4 years ago | (#30648532)

Many small aircraft get as good, if not better, than many SUVs and at 2-3 times the speed while carrying one to four people and a small amount of luggage.

And comparing an auto from the edge of the bell curve is useful how? (Doubly so when the aircraft compared to has a fraction of the capacity and capability.)

Re:What do they know? (5, Funny)

sentientbeing (688713) | more than 4 years ago | (#30647514)

Youre right. These flying cars will never take off.

Re:What do they know? (1)

Megane (129182) | more than 4 years ago | (#30647594)

Just wait until we get a Mr. Fusion.

(posting because I fumbled my moderation from Funny to Overrated - one chance pop-up menus suck)

Re:What do they know? (1)

veganboyjosh (896761) | more than 4 years ago | (#30648104)

(posting because I fumbled my moderation from Funny to Overrated - one chance pop-up menus suck)

Someone correct me if I'm wrong, but don't the mods you make only take effect once you scroll all the way to the bottom of the screen and click "Moderate?" I've seen folks post to undo erroneous moderation like the parent has done and always wondered about this. Do they choose to mod something "informative," scroll down, click "moderate," and then realize they should have modded the post "troll?"

Or is it as the parent suggests; it's a one time pop up menu?

Re:What do they know? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30648330)

It depends on whether you're using the "classic" or "dynamic" index style. Go here [slashdot.org] to check.

Re:What do they know? (2, Informative)

A nonymous Coward (7548) | more than 4 years ago | (#30648618)

No, if you set the right clickees in preferences, mods take effect as soon as you slide off the mod menu.

Re:What do they know? (2, Informative)

Cassius Corodes (1084513) | more than 4 years ago | (#30649646)

I sometimes find I select something - and the drop-down box is still selected as I try to scroll down with my mouse wheel - which scrolls the drop down box instead of the screen. I don't always notice that that is what happened until I have confirmed it.

Re:What do they know? (1)

Teancum (67324) | more than 4 years ago | (#30647930)

An "aircar" version of a HMMWV (aka "Humvee" or "Hummer") might be an interesting vehicle, and would have some tactical applications in terms of inserting some soldiers or marines at a critical location or to redistribute firepower during critical situations. Flying over improvised bombs and landmines might also have a practical side effect of rendering those kinds of attacks as an obsolete tactic.

So yeah, I can see a legitimate military application for this kind of vehicle.

As for civilian versions, I don't see the value of it either in terms of raw economics. Fuel consumption in terms of mile per gallon would be hideous, especially on short trips. If these vehicles were to be adopted in large quantities, traffic problems would also be a nightmare and would also require a massive overhaul of traffic laws, not to mention how the FAA would treat such vehicles as well.

As for antigravity research.... at least find the physical phenomena first that it at least works at all before dumping millions into R&D to get it working. At least nuclear fusion has a physical science theory to base technological research upon, unlike other even more far fetched ideas like zero point energy or anti-gravity research.

You could've said the same about the internet. (2, Informative)

Trerro (711448) | more than 4 years ago | (#30648128)

Arpanet was slow, incredibly laggy, incapable of supporting a huge userbase, and as a result, impractical except in limited military and large-scale academic applications. It was largely ignored by the general public, and was of little value to society at large. It became the internet.

The original GPS system was horrifically expensive, and had a large enough margin of error that it was mainly used for coordinating naval fleets, where being a few hundred feet off course generally wasn't an issue in the middle of an ocean. You can now buy a fairly cheap device that both visually and verbally directs you through cities, usually with a margin of error of no more than 3 meters.

Note that in both cases, it only took about 20 years to go from an expensive, limited technology that the military had limited use for and civilians had none at all, to a common technology that no one thinks twice about using. So yes... the original flying car is going to be slow, terribly inefficient, and useless except in battlefields that it fits perfectly... but give it a decade or two, and you just may be driving one.

Also, keep in mind that even if taking off burns a huge amount of fuel, and your air MPG is not better than your ground MPG, the fact that you can aim in a straight line to your destination instead of following roads is going to save fuel on anything but very short trips... and you can still drive for those.

Re:You could've said the same about the internet. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30650394)

Note that in both cases [GPS and [ARPA/DARPA/intern]net], it only took about 20 years to go from an expensive, limited technology that the military had limited use for and civilians had none at all, to a common technology that no one thinks twice about using.

Perhaps, but keep in mind that both of the technologies you mentioned were based on very young fields. Both relied on computing - and GPS also relied on nuclear science (for the atomic clocks) and aerospace (for the satellites). It was easy to discover breakthroughs, as it is with every young field (low-hanging fruit and all that). Flight is 100 years old, and we're likely at the limits of what we can discover (barring of course advances from other fields - eg, material sciences), so I doubt they're going to make a breakthrough (or series of breakthroughs) that improves the efficiency of flying vehicles by orders of magnitudes. If such advancements were possible in merely 20 years, we'd have already made them in the last 100.

Re:What do they know? (2, Insightful)

Arancaytar (966377) | more than 4 years ago | (#30649472)

This will probably be something that's only for military use of some kind.

Unlike cryptology, digital computers and the internet? Steel? Military applications have driven innovation for--- well, forever really.

The depressing thing about human nature is that if we weren't always busy coming up with more efficient ways to kill each other, technology might be advancing far more slowly.

Re:What do they know? (1)

Chapter80 (926879) | more than 4 years ago | (#30647266)

Whatever happened to that DARPANET they used to have? Losers.

Offtopic? That's funny, and the mod wouldn't be able to moderate it if it wasn't on topic.

Ground vs Air (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30647190)

I never liked the idea to let people have flying cars. They can't even drive on the ground so why letting them road-rage in the air too?

Teleporter is such a better idea anyway.

Re:Ground vs Air (2, Insightful)

jimbolauski (882977) | more than 4 years ago | (#30647272)

By the time hover cars are available, cars should be driving by themselves so it shouldn't be a problem until computers start getting road rage.

Re:Ground vs Air (1)

slugicide (932022) | more than 4 years ago | (#30647332)

Exactly. Also, who is going to maintain the vehicles?

Re:Ground vs Air (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30647486)

Terminators, no... Techies, no... Medics, no... I know... Mechanics!

Re:Ground vs Air (-1, Flamebait)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 4 years ago | (#30647376)

Wow.. I didn't know we needed your permission Nazi AC.

Re:Ground vs Air (3, Informative)

Trepidity (597) | more than 4 years ago | (#30647502)

In most countries you already do need some sort of permission, don't you? An exception is if you're flying at relatively low altitudes over your own property, since in some countries airspace below a certain level is considered to be part of the ownership of the property. But if you're flying at even sort-of-high altitudes, you have to be a licensed pilot. And if you're flying at low altitudes over another person's property without permission, you're violating their property rights.

Another exception in the U.S. seems to be very light aircraft (I believe under 155 lbs), under the theory that in any crash you're not very likely to harm anyone but yourself. If a flying car weighed anything like a normal car, though, it wouldn't come close to meeting that threshhold (a Honda Civic is over 2500 lbs).

Re:Ground vs Air (1)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 4 years ago | (#30647856)

Licensed pilots are free to fly over anyone's property.. the only air space restrictions are for safety or national security. When applying for a pilot license (or hell, even a driving license) there is an assumption of your right to fly. The requirements are simply there for minimum safety.. there's no "oh, we don't like you so we're not going to let you fly" or "actually, we've given out too many commercial pilot's licenses this year, so come back next year."

Re:Ground vs Air (1)

More_Cowbell (957742) | more than 4 years ago | (#30648574)

He said:

And if you're flying at low altitudes over another person's property without permission, you're violating their property rights.

Now, I don't know where you live, but here in the US, he is absolutely correct. Keeping in mind we are talking in the few hundred foot range or less (give or take, I'm not going to look up any specific laws now), and not the much higher altitudes that private pilots usually fly in.

Re:Ground vs Air (1)

B4D BE4T (879239) | more than 4 years ago | (#30649066)

I have a private pilot certificate. There are regulations regarding minimum safe altitude. A good description is here [wikipedia.org]. But throughout my training no one mentioned any laws specifically regarding low flying over others' property. Theoretically, I could fly over someone's land with the wheels just off the ground provided there is no one around, it is possible to make a safe landing at any time (if necessary), weather permits VFR flight, etc. If you know of any laws that say otherwise, I would appreciate a link.

Re:Ground vs Air (1)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 4 years ago | (#30649160)

No.. he's not.

In the United States, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has the sole authority to control all airspace, exclusively determining the rules and requirements for its use. Typically, in the "Uncontrolled" category of airspace, any pilot can fly any aircraft as low as he/she wants, subject to the requirement of maintaining a 500-foot (150 m) distance from people and man-made structures except for purposes of takeoff and landing, and not causing any hazard.

Specifically, in United States v. Causby the Supreme Court held that although Causby had the right to use the airspace above his property, he had no right to exclude others from using the airspace. As such he was unable to prevent the Airforce from flying over his property and upsetting the egg production of his chickens.

Re:Ground vs Air (1)

SilverHatHacker (1381259) | more than 4 years ago | (#30647766)

Besides that, at least when the engine goes in your car, you'll slow down until you stop. Positive acceleration is only fun for so long...

Re:Ground vs Air (3, Interesting)

Rei (128717) | more than 4 years ago | (#30647908)

Fly-by-wire, with a special, hard-to-get license for manual flight and restrictions on where it can be used.

Flying cars would also require a lot of safety features to ensure survivability in an accident or mechanical problem, including multiple engines with the ability to survive the failure of one or more of them, as well as vehicle parachutes launched by a spreader gun for rapid deployment, and possibly large airbags to cushion the landing of the vehicle itself.

Hmm... you know, I bet you could have the firing off of vehicle-scale airbags *be* the spreader for your chute if you did it right.

who tagged this? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30647192)

who tagged this "fixtheeconomyfirst"?

like darpa projects never lead to civil advances?

or like it's darpa's job to fixtheeconomy?

Re:who tagged this? (1)

Garble Snarky (715674) | more than 4 years ago | (#30647336)

But... DARPA gets money from the government? Money that could otherwise go toward other causes?

Re:who tagged this? (1)

someone1234 (830754) | more than 4 years ago | (#30647414)

Fixing the economy isn't the Government's business either... At least in a 'free' world.
All the Government should do about economy is to not waste money on rescuing sinking corporations, where the management would just take the money and run.

Re:who tagged this? (1)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 4 years ago | (#30647898)

Yes innovation has nothing to do with the economy. Lets keep everything static, we will never loose jobs in any particular sector... If we do it is someone else's fault.

Re:who tagged this? (1)

mschuyler (197441) | more than 4 years ago | (#30648452)

Good Lord. DARPA: Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, part of the Department of Defense. It's a few guys sitting in offices soliciting ideas, many of which will not work. But a few do, like the Internet, for example.

Isn't the Moller Skycar ready Yet? (1)

billstewart (78916) | more than 4 years ago | (#30647196)

Or is it still Real Soon Now?

ObXKCD [xkcd.com]

Re:Isn't the Moller Skycar ready Yet? (1)

garyisabusyguy (732330) | more than 4 years ago | (#30647476)

Moller has faced some health issues in the past few years that slowed down development, the company was facing financial crises and they were shifting to selling their rotary engine as a power supply for hybrid vehicles...

At least that was what the scoop when I got curious last summer.

From what I se there is a new web site and (maybe) some movement on financing, anybody out there got the real story?

Re:Isn't the Moller Skycar ready Yet? (1)

Rei (128717) | more than 4 years ago | (#30647994)

Past few years?

I was a fan of them back when I was in college in the late 90s. I stopped paying attention when they proved themselves incapable of moving beyond the prototype stage. Neat concept, but not a very capable company.

Re:Isn't the Moller Skycar ready Yet? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30649028)

The main one being most Americans brains are fried trying to handle a stick shift

"kick-starts flying car"? (3, Funny)

billstewart (78916) | more than 4 years ago | (#30647226)

Can't they put a starter motor in the thing? I'd hate to have to get out, kick-start the thing, and have it fly away; that'd be almost as bad as having an old crank-start car trying to run you over.

Re:"kick-starts flying car"? (5, Informative)

smellsofbikes (890263) | more than 4 years ago | (#30648320)

You kid, but Barnaby Wainfan's unique Facetmobile [wikipedia.org] aircraft originally had a pull-start motor that could only be started from the outside of the aircraft, which made life complicated. For that matter, most older aircraft, pre-1950, didn't have starters at all, and were started by hand-pulling the propeller hard enough to get the engine to fire [pipercubforum.com]. As you can imagine, this injured and killed a lot of people -- a lot more people killed than crank-starting cars -- and ended up with a fairly large number of aircraft flying off with no pilot. Some of them managed to fly hundreds of miles this way, in fact.

To the moron(s) who tagged 'fixtheeconomyfirst'... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30647310)

You are genuinely and thoroughly stupid, because you truly believe that DARPA is in charge of the American economy.

Re:To the moron(s) who tagged 'fixtheeconomyfirst' (3, Insightful)

Trepidity (597) | more than 4 years ago | (#30647378)

I'm guessing it's an argument more like, "why are we allocating a bunch of money to [x], when [priority y] is more important, and we don't have unlimited money".

It's an odd sort of argument, in that it make sense to some extent, but in practice has to be ignored to some extent also, or we'll never do anything except really basic stuff. For example, if you have extra money you're thinking of donating to charity, why donate to the EFF, or to support an artist you like, when kids are dying in Africa; that's surely more important, right?

The more high-level question makes some sense though: is our current overall allocation of money to the military the proper level, or should it be reduced to free up money for other priorities?

This is just a ploy to get a car that can launch (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30647394)

A nuclear warhead from a railgun. Just watch out darpa chief for heart attacks

Re:This is just a ploy to get a car that can launc (1)

sexconker (1179573) | more than 4 years ago | (#30648302)

Fucker couldn't even remember Meryl's codec number and I RENTED THE GAME.

Not really, I owned it.
When I was in a Blockbuster after having played it, I looked on their case for MGS (a standard DVD-style case with their printed out BLOCKBUSTER sleeve, not the real one) and they DID in fact reprint Meryl's codec number.

I was pleasantly surprised, though I do know it was a problem for a bunch of people. Apparently Meryl calls you eventually anyway, though.

Where's my pony? (1)

TrumpetPower! (190615) | more than 4 years ago | (#30647458)

They want a fast roadable vehicle that does VTOL and long-distance all on a single tank of gas?

How much does the grant include for the development of unobtanium-powered engines?

Or have they finally waterboarded the Little Green Men at Area 51 sufficiently to reveal how to distill two-headed Martial Elvis babies into flying saucer fuel, and this is just the setup for the cover story preceding the public unveiling?

Cheers,

b&

Welcome to civilization (1)

copponex (13876) | more than 4 years ago | (#30647564)

Welcome to civilization, where "unsolvable" problems are tackled with technology, ingenuity, and a desire for human progress.

Oh, never mind. This is 21st Century America, where nothing is possible, and every dollar not spent on weapons technology, luxury goods, or puerile entertainment is "wasted." I keep forgetting.

This nonsense from the same bastards that said we could build a worldwide computer network that may change the world as we know it, and wasted hundreds of millions of dollars developing it. Morons!

Re:Welcome to civilization (1)

TrumpetPower! (190615) | more than 4 years ago | (#30647910)

You miss my point.

I’m all for advancements and the research necessary to bring them about.

At least TFS, though, describes a vehicle that is physically impossible with modern engine technology.

VTOL takes vast amounts of energy. High-speed and long-range travel takes lots of energy. Roadable vehicles, flyable vehicles, and VTOL vehicles all demand significantly different efficiency compromises.

Demanding a single vehicle that meets all their requirements means coming up with something that will need a powerplant that’s far smaller, lighter, and more powerful than anything even theoretically possible with current engine technologies, and it will have to be powered by a fuel that’s also more dense and energetic than anything currently in use.

The description really is for a flying saucer, and it will — of necessity — need an equally-fantastic motor. Without that motor, nobody’ll even make it out of the parking lot.

In other words, unless somebody has plans for a 100 kg fusion reactor stashed away somewhere, this DARPA project will always be 20 years from completion.

Cheers,

b&

Re:Welcome to civilization (1)

rwa2 (4391) | more than 4 years ago | (#30650860)

Heh, TFA mentions that they're looking for hybrid electric engines and advanced batteries, among other things.

My prediction is that the group that wins the competition will use some sort of deployable hot-air balloon to achieve "VTOL".

I only have until January 7th to register for their poster session? Aw, nuts :P

Re:Welcome to civilization (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30649594)

where every dollar not spent on weapons technology is wasted

... you do realize that this car is a military research project?

This has a chance... (2, Insightful)

RyanFenton (230700) | more than 4 years ago | (#30647498)

One of the first tags on this story was "fixtheeconomyfirst"... but the core problem in our economy is that the dichotomy between wealthy investors and owner calss, and the mass of stagnant income earner class who mostly provide service to eachother and the wealthy. Flashy inefficient technology like these are about all we can do at this point to get anything out of the currently rather sheepish investors/owners. Our political system will NOT be fixing this situation anytime soon - not when money spent on campaigns is considered "political speech", and corporations are counted as people for those related rights.

Still, if most golden-parachute equipped managers can be convinced to sign a bankruptcy inducing contract just because one of these things are SO flying-car-smexy, and they can only get it through these government channels fully equipped to extract that money - then there's a chance to reduce their political power. And that WOULD fix the economy, in a roundabout way.

Not going to happen - but like with cheap flying cars, one can always dream.

Ryan Fenton

Re:This has a chance... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30647612)

One of the first tags on this story was "fixtheeconomyfirst"...

Thank you for reminding me of the reason why I've turned off tags: They're nearly always irrelevant, snarky, stupid, sarcastic, or some combination thereof.

Anyone Want to Start A Pool? (1)

BJ_Covert_Action (1499847) | more than 4 years ago | (#30647572)

From the Project Conference Description [fbo.gov]:

The workshop will: (a) Introduce the research community (industry, academia, and Government) to the TX program vision and objectives;

So who wants to start a pool on which agencies/industry power hitters make the biggest contributions? Lockheed Martin has a great military aircraft record but Boeing seems to work magic in the advanced controls systems. Personally I would put my money on Northrop Gruman or some university coming up with the most significant design contributions. Both of those sources have quite the tenacity for half-crazed cutting edge ideas that the government loves to gobble up.

Re:Anyone Want to Start A Pool? (1)

radtea (464814) | more than 4 years ago | (#30647828)

Both of those sources have quite the tenacity for half-crazed cutting edge ideas that the government loves to gobble up.

Cutting edge? Apparently the flying car has been "promised" by someone for fifty years, although I'm damned if I can figure out who made this promise or when or to whom.

No one ever promised me a flying car, so I guess I'm just not special!

batman (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30647602)

Prior art: I think batman has one of these already.

no, no no (2, Interesting)

kehren77 (814078) | more than 4 years ago | (#30647614)

We don't need flying cars. Flying cars = Falling cars. Add in volatile fuel and you have bombs. What they need to work on is a car that will hover about 2-3 feet above the ground. A hover car would eliminate the need for paved roads, road maintenance, bridges, bridge maintenance, etc... You just need lane guides and median dividers.

Re:no, no no (1)

UnknowingFool (672806) | more than 4 years ago | (#30647732)

Throw in the idiot/jerk factor too. With how people drive today on roads, some drivers can't stay within 2 dimensions of the road. Imagine what craziness will ensue when another dimension is added for them to recklessly traverse.

Re:no, no no (5, Funny)

sunderland56 (621843) | more than 4 years ago | (#30647748)

We don't need flying cars. Flying cars = Falling cars. Add in volatile fuel and you have bombs.

So, who is going to perform the security search before I leave for work in a flying car? Does the TSA come to my house every morning, or does my wife get to strip search me? And can I be checked before I put on my shoes, or do I have to put them on, then take them off, and then put them on again?

And if I bring a cup of coffee, does it have to be smaller than 3.4 ounces??

Re:no, no no (1)

DragonWriter (970822) | more than 4 years ago | (#30649126)

So, who is going to perform the security search before I leave for work in a flying car?

Who does the security search before you fly an airplane that you own, instead of a commercial airliner?

I suspect the answer will be the same.

Re:no, no no (1)

gmhowell (26755) | more than 4 years ago | (#30649578)

Does the TSA come to my house every morning, or does my wife get to strip search me?

Well, your wife already strip searches me after you leave for work.

Re:no, no no (1)

DragonWriter (970822) | more than 4 years ago | (#30647792)

We don't need flying cars. Flying cars = Falling cars. Add in volatile fuel and you have bombs. What they need to work on is a car that will hover about 2-3 feet above the ground. A hover car would eliminate the need for paved roads, road maintenance, bridges, bridge maintenance, etc...

Assuming the car actually moves parallel to the ground while above it, that's a low-altitude flying car. Hovering doesn't get you anywhere except off the ground.

Re:no, no no (1)

jameskojiro (705701) | more than 4 years ago | (#30648222)

Hovercars would be immune to icy roads too....

But they would always drive as if they were on an icy road all of the time.....

Re:no, no no (1)

kehren77 (814078) | more than 4 years ago | (#30650332)

Not necessarily. It depends on the cause of your forward momentum. If you have some sort of thruster pushing you forward, there is nothing saying you can't have one to decelerate you as well.

Re:no, no no (1)

Nadaka (224565) | more than 4 years ago | (#30647804)

I don't think so. Hover cars are by necessity going to be supported on a pillar of high pressure air. That will turn a dirt road into a dust storm, water into spray and gravel into high speed projectiles. Add to that, the difficulty in steering and braking when you don't have contact with the surface and you will see that hover cars are a no go.

Re:no, no no (1)

kehren77 (814078) | more than 4 years ago | (#30650390)

Sure, assuming that it is a classic hovercraft. But, we have those. I'm saying we need to develop something that hovers without massive air pressure. Like the hoverboard in Back to the Future or speeders in Star Wars or anti-gravity lifts in Star Trek.

Re:no, no no (1)

mano.m (1587187) | more than 4 years ago | (#30650262)

Very, very rarely, one comes across a Slashdot comment that truly does deserve the title of 'Insightful'. Do please mod parent up.

Noisy Pork (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30647644)

"In addition, transportation is no longer restricted to trafficable terrain that tends to makes movement predictable.'"

If this technology is being developed for war, it's a pork barrel project.

Who needs an enemy to be predictable, just NOISY , and all elements of surprise are lost.

Re:Noisy Pork (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30648928)

BTW, I note that sources say it is correct as "trafficable", but I'm not seeing a reason why it isn't "traffickable" like "trafficked" and "trafficking".

Watch out for that building!!! (2, Funny)

DigiShaman (671371) | more than 4 years ago | (#30647648)

It's all fun and games till numb-nuts ram flying crafts into a buildings. Oh wait...

No military use (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 4 years ago | (#30647778)

No real military use for this thing.

If you see it, you can kill it, with RPGs or whatever, so hovering in the air merely increases the range from which it can be struck.

Then there are no current levitation systems that don't involve massive airflow, making a huge dust cloud (also ingesting all kinds of junk into the engines)

Then they mention "asymmetric threats" because everyone knows that guarantees grant money, but in my opinion using a levitating APC or whatever in the middle east would be fairly suicidal...

Re:No military use (1)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 4 years ago | (#30647900)

If you can't see the military use for a humvee that can jump a ditch you've got the worst case of failure of imagination ever known. Please report to IBM for recruitment.

Re:No military use (1)

DragonWriter (970822) | more than 4 years ago | (#30647950)

No real military use for this thing.

If you see it, you can kill it, with RPGs or whatever, so hovering in the air merely increases the range from which it can be struck.

Being able to easily pop up from the ground is better, from that respect, from being able to pop up from NOE flight, so there is a respect that a VTOL craft that can move well on roads and do light off-road work could be better than, say, a helicopter (which is very poor at moving on the ground.)

On the other hand, being able to move at high speed (compared to ground vehicles) through the air (and thereby bypass unpassable terrain on the ground) provides better tactical mobility in many environments than a typical ground vehicle.

So, conceivably, if you could do this, it would probably have utility.

Whether the probability that anything viable will ever be produced, when considered with the likely cost of the effort, makes it worthwhile is still questionable.

Then there are no current levitation systems that don't involve massive airflow, making a huge dust cloud (also ingesting all kinds of junk into the engines)

There are certainly systems which could be used for vertical take-off that exist now that don't require having open air intakes during take-off -- like rockets.

Re:No military use (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30648096)

Back to your grave, Marshal Foch.

Re:No military use (1)

timeOday (582209) | more than 4 years ago | (#30648144)

Huh? Helicopters are already in wide use in Afghanistan, in fact there's been quite a flap in the UK recently over the shortage of helicopters [defensenews.com] there.

IMHO whatever comes from this DARPA program will inevitably be a more roadworthy helicopter, which may or may not end up having enough advantages over existing helicopters. But to slam it simply because it won't be invisible is just silly.

Re:No military use (1)

sexconker (1179573) | more than 4 years ago | (#30648402)

If you see it, you can kill it, with RPGs or whatever, so hovering in the air merely increases the range from which it can be struck.

Then there are no current levitation systems that don't involve massive airflow, making a huge dust cloud (also ingesting all kinds of junk into the engines)

Seems to me all that dust would make it kinda hard to see!

Military use is to vitiate roadside bombs (1)

Raffaello (230287) | more than 4 years ago | (#30648454)

I'd venture a guess that the whole reason this is being researched by DARPA is because of the high number of casualties caused by roadside bombs. If an insurgent enemy knows that you must transport personnel and materiel via existing roads, it makes it easy to target you without being seen. The US wants an engagement where they know where the enemy is. The US doesn't want an engagement where the enemy knows where they are (i.e., on the road) but the enemy can himself remain hidden while inflicting damage.

If you have a vehicle that allows you to choose a more unpredictable path (i.e., not always use roads) then an insurgent enemy has one of their most effective weapons taken from them. In effect, a vehicle like this would force an insurgent enemy to come out into the open to attack it. This is a good thing if, like the US, you have superior weapons, logistics, communication, air support, etc. The enemy must reveal their position, for example, to fire an RPG, and experience shows that when they reveal their position, they die.

Roads with VTOL? (1)

Migraineman (632203) | more than 4 years ago | (#30647990)

If it's a VTOL vehicle, why the need for roads?

Re:Roads with VTOL? (1)

sexconker (1179573) | more than 4 years ago | (#30648422)

Doc Brown said they wouldn't need roads where they were going, but if they had been going somewhere else they would have needed roads.

Re:Roads with VTOL? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30649284)

Roads? Where we're going we don't -need- roads.

Flying Cars would be 'extra' green. (1)

ananamouse (943446) | more than 4 years ago | (#30648022)

Concrete puts out a lot of CO2, both making it, mixing it and hauling it, and as it decomposes. If we had flying cars we would not need concrete for roads so we could factor that in to the flying cars carbon footprint. I can't wait to get mine.

Bahhd Idea (1)

pubwvj (1045960) | more than 4 years ago | (#30648130)

Flying cars are a really bad idea.
The vast majority of drivers are failing in 2D.
Add another dimension to fail in and the problem explodes.
I also don't want them over my house, land, pastures.
Costs and fuel consumption will hopefully kill this dead.

Re:Bahhd Idea (1)

DragonWriter (970822) | more than 4 years ago | (#30649248)

The vast majority of drivers are failing in 2D.

Please explain the sense of "failing" for which this is true even for a bare majority of drivers, much less a "vast" majority.

Airport Security - Bypassed (1)

jameskojiro (705701) | more than 4 years ago | (#30648194)

I recommend not living or working in any high rise buildings after flying cars are mainstreamed....

Here comes Mr. Alluh Fubar in an Aerial Audi.

Duck and Cover

flying cars are ludicrously greener (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30648240)

I dont give a crap about the environment, but flying cars are much greener then regular cars. As previously stated modern planes nowadays achieve better efficiency then most SUV's, and trip times will be majorly shorter, thus less fuel will be used in achieving a journey. Provided consumption rates can be kept similar to present planes or even large cars, being able to travel directly to your location in a straight line, as well as (with our current population at least) having no such thing as traffic jams since if the guy in front of you slows down just go above him.

Osprey conversion (1)

planckscale (579258) | more than 4 years ago | (#30648418)

I say just slap a 6 wheel chassis under an Osprey. I mean that conversion will cost less than converting a HUMVEE right? And the wings and blades of the Osprey fold down anyway. I can't imagine the Osprey being any bigger and bulkier than an MRAP or another one of those mine resistant vehicles.

Re:Osprey conversion (1)

mjwx (966435) | more than 4 years ago | (#30649440)

I say just slap a 6 wheel chassis under an Osprey.

The problem with that is that highly trained Marine pilots struggle to fly the Osprey. How do you expect the average redneck to do it whilst on their mobile phone and fiddling with their stereo.

Energy (1)

sc0p3 (972992) | more than 4 years ago | (#30648580)

There is no way a flying car can use a reasonable amount of energy. Giving this to all the civilians in the US will cripple the environment for certain. The US should give money to DARPA - but why not instead something a little more holistic, low cost energy (limit the need for resource-competition, avoid the "war" problems in the first place)

OUR future?!? (1)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 4 years ago | (#30648682)

Unless you are wearing camos with bars on the shoulders, I don't think DARPA is funding this for YOUR future!

VTOL (1)

mugnyte (203225) | more than 4 years ago | (#30648752)

The initial momentum vertically is the highest energy requirement, which severely limits payload as energy storage becomes a huge issue. Large fan blades are probably not possible as well.

    Perhaps a spring or hydraulic based jump-start system (undercarriage paddles?) could enable a vehicle to begin large hops while engaging a ducted fan system that doesn't give full lift, but can slow a landing. For full flight, I suspect a folded wing system of some kind will be necessary.

To be flown anywhere BUT in the USA (1)

gsgriffin (1195771) | more than 4 years ago | (#30649070)

With our new push toward green, you'll see less travel in the blue. My bet is that the carbon footprint of any flying car will be perfect for Gore to replace his plane, but be prohibitive for us common folks. Unless this flies producing only water vapor as a result of any combustion, of course.

Well I have to get one now (1)

PaganRitual (551879) | more than 4 years ago | (#30649216)

... provide the flexibility to adapt to traditional and asymmetric threats ...

Excellent, it's being prepared to handle South Australian drivers then. Sweet.

Don't Miss the Flying Sub! (1)

Greg Hullender (621024) | more than 4 years ago | (#30649708)

TFA also reported they're building a submersible airplane. I suppose that'll be useful to visit our underwater cities. (No, I don't mean New Orleans!)

--Greg

Get your hoverconversion (1)

beej (82035) | more than 4 years ago | (#30650088)

"Only thirty-nine, nine-ninety-nine, ninety-five."

Remember when that sounded like a lot of money for a flying car?

Feasibility (1)

rdnetto (955205) | more than 4 years ago | (#30650728)

Are flying cars even feasible? The energy required to push a car forward is nothing compared to the energy needed to keep it in the air. Even if flying cars are developed, their not going to be economical until we get past the energy crisis.

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