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At Last, Flying Cars?

kdawson posted more than 4 years ago | from the no-good-telling-the-girls-you're-a-pilot dept.

The Military 194

ColdWetDog writes, "OK, we've all whined about the fact that we are now firmly entrenched in the 21st Century and no flying cars. So it is gratifying to see that our good friends at DARPA are finally going to do something about it." The project is called Transformer TX. "The Government's envisioned concept consists of a robust ground vehicle that is capable of configuring into a VTOL air vehicle with a maximum payload capability of approximately 1,000 lbs. ... Technologies of interest may include: hybrid electric drive, advanced batteries, adaptive wing structures, ducted fan propulsion systems, advanced lightweight heavy fuel engines, lightweight materials, advanced sensors, and flight controls for stable transition from vertical to horizontal flight. ... Like all DARPA projects Transformer TX is unlikely to succeed at all. Even if US Marine rifle companies one day do ride to war in handy four-man sky jeeps rather than cumbersome choppers or Humvees, that doesn't necessarily mean flying cars for all any more than Harriers or Ospreys did."

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194 comments

Cool. (1)

tpstigers (1075021) | more than 4 years ago | (#31882872)

So when do I get my robot servant?

Re:Cool. (5, Funny)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 4 years ago | (#31882920)

By "servant", you mean "sexbot", right?

Re:Cool. (3, Funny)

pinkj (521155) | more than 4 years ago | (#31882934)

I assume yes, but I think it would be nice for the robot to clean up after sex as well.

Re:Cool. (4, Informative)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 4 years ago | (#31882970)

If it can sexually service men, clean up afterwards, and then fetch beer and a pizza... then our species is doomed!

Re:Cool. (2, Funny)

MachDelta (704883) | more than 4 years ago | (#31883196)

Not if it collects samples during the service!

Re:Cool. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31883436)

Err... [tvtropes.org]

Re:Cool. (4, Funny)

Starayo (989319) | more than 4 years ago | (#31883236)

Tape a fleshlight to a roomba. :D

Re:Cool. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31883448)

Tape a fleshlight to a roomba. :D

haha! now about that beer and pizza part... I mean we're like half way there right?!

Re:Cool. (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31883088)

Yeah, add violation to the charges against us when the robots rise against us.

Re:Cool. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31883756)

DON'T DATE ROBOTS!
This message brought to you by the Space Pope and the lameness filter.

Re:Cool. (2, Funny)

Zen Hash (1619759) | more than 4 years ago | (#31883082)

"It's times like this that I feel lied to by the Jetsons."
"The Flying Car" by Kevin Smith [youtube.com]

Keep this off the streets (5, Insightful)

aliddell (1716018) | more than 4 years ago | (#31882874)

I'm not sure that the average driver needs to worry about three dimensions if he can't handle two well enough.

Re:Keep this off the streets (2, Insightful)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 4 years ago | (#31882900)

In urban areas they'd probably have to be computer-controlled for just such reasons. And because they may have to select a path over the least-populated areas, which may change depending on time of day.

Re:Keep this off the streets (4, Funny)

aliddell (1716018) | more than 4 years ago | (#31882924)

We can get Toyota to do that.

Re:Keep this off the streets (4, Funny)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 4 years ago | (#31882960)

We can get Toyota to do [computer control]

The difference is that there's less to hit if you can't stop:

"Sorry, Boss, I had to go to Vegas, it's a Toyota flyer."
     

Re:Keep this off the streets (4, Insightful)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 4 years ago | (#31883152)

> In urban areas they'd probably have to be computer-controlled

They'll have to be computer-controlled everywhere. At low speeds and low altitudes the user may sometimes be permitted the illusion that he is driving.

Re:Keep this off the streets (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31882958)

Lucky for the average driver, it is intended to be capable of autonomous operation.

Re:Keep this off the streets (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31883138)

Most crashes would probably be avoided if you could also go up or down instead of just left or right...

flying robotic overlords (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31882892)

I for one welcome our Autobot overlords.

Re:flying robotic overlords (4, Funny)

SteveFoerster (136027) | more than 4 years ago | (#31883110)

I for one welcome our Autobot overlords.

Autobots don't fly, Decepticons do. Thus, we're doomed.

Re:flying robotic overlords (2, Funny)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | more than 4 years ago | (#31883112)

I for one welcome our Autobot overlords.

It was the Decepticons that flew. Yeesh.

Re:flying robotic overlords (2, Funny)

SteveFoerster (136027) | more than 4 years ago | (#31883200)

We said the same thing at the same minute? Hopefully this is a case of "great minds think alike" and not one of "fools seldom differ". :-)

Re:flying robotic overlords (2, Funny)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | more than 4 years ago | (#31883294)

Haha. What's sad is after I posted that I looked down and noticed I was wearing a Transformers T-shirt.

Super cool, huh?

Re:flying robotic overlords (2, Funny)

SteveFoerster (136027) | more than 4 years ago | (#31883306)

I recognize a tie-breaker when I see one. I concede defeat, sir. :-D

Damn typical (2, Funny)

geegel (1587009) | more than 4 years ago | (#31882898)

Finally the thing shows up and only the military can play with it.

Re:Damn typical (1)

pinkj (521155) | more than 4 years ago | (#31882974)

Just like the internet at first. So, with that in mind, we should have flying cars ourselves in about 20 years from now.

Re:Damn typical (1)

kvezach (1199717) | more than 4 years ago | (#31883044)

... after which the paranoid TSA/DHS will mandate SAM sites around every office building in town.

Re:Damn typical (1)

biryokumaru (822262) | more than 4 years ago | (#31883528)

You do realize that the military has also had hovercraft [wikipedia.org] for over 25 years, right?

Strange definition of success (4, Insightful)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 4 years ago | (#31882906)

> Like all DARPA projects Transformer TX is unlikely to succeed at all.

You have a strange definition of success. Hint: DARPA is a research organization.

Re:Strange definition of success (3, Insightful)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 4 years ago | (#31882954)

You mean like that DARPA TCP/IP project... that was certainly unlikely to succeed at all!

Re:Strange definition of success (1)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | more than 4 years ago | (#31883290)

TCP/IP *was* a failure. Do you know how long it takes the pigeons to bring me news from /.? I'll have to find out some dial-up BBS mirror of /. instead, because it drives me nuts.

Souds promising (1)

$RANDOMLUSER (804576) | more than 4 years ago | (#31882908)

Maybe you could have a few of them link up and form a Zord.

Re:Souds promising (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31882952)

If that is the future I want to die today.

Re:Souds promising (1)

Culture20 (968837) | more than 4 years ago | (#31883750)

Maybe you could have a few of them link up and form a Zord.

Do you mean a Voltron?

Too Heavy? (5, Funny)

Mikkeles (698461) | more than 4 years ago | (#31882916)

'... a VTOL air vehicle with a maximum payload capability of approximately 1,000 lbs?.'

So a typical US family of four won't be able to acheive lift-off in it!

Re:Too Heavy? (1)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 4 years ago | (#31883190)

You can take along either the luggage or the kids. Not both.

Re:Too Heavy? (3, Funny)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | more than 4 years ago | (#31883298)

You can take along either the luggage or the kids. Not both.

Unless you put your kids into the suitcase.

Re:Too Heavy? (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31883194)

A typical US family would have at least 3 of them.

Re:Too Heavy? (1)

vtcodger (957785) | more than 4 years ago | (#31883736)

***A typical US family would have at least 3 of them.***

Not for long I expect. Ignoring "Check Engine" lights and strange noises in a flying vehicle is probably going to have serious consequences. If these things ever hit the consumer market, invest in funeral home stocks.

Wife Acceptance Factor (1)

srussia (884021) | more than 4 years ago | (#31882928)

FTFS:"So it is gratifying to see that our good friends at DARPA are finally going to do something about it." The project is called Transformer TX."

I wish my wife was as enthusiastic about my garage projects as ColdWetDog is about DARPA's little project. Then again, maybe he doesn't know that he probably has a joint credit card with DARPA.

Re:Wife Acceptance Factor (4, Funny)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 4 years ago | (#31883078)

maybe he doesn't know that he probably has a joint credit card with DARPA.

I do? I'll go check again. This will be great!

"No, honey, I didn't order the four GE turbofan engines that just showed up on the UPS dock. That wasn't me at all, that was DARPA!"

On second thought, maybe it wouldn't be such a good idea.. "So, just who is this Darpa chick? How did she get your credit card?" I'd be in a heap of trouble.

energy density (2, Insightful)

Colin Smith (2679) | more than 4 years ago | (#31882936)

Till we all get personal nuclear power stations in our cars, they ain't going to fly. There simply isn't enough energy density in our current fuels to power a flying car safely.

 

Re:energy density (2, Interesting)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 4 years ago | (#31883084)

Till we all get personal nuclear power stations in our cars, they ain't going to fly. There simply isn't enough energy density in our current fuels to power a flying car safely.

If they were single-person they may be able to pull it off. Most commuters are individuals anyhow. I've seen an interesting vertical capsule design in which the capsule becomes kind of a semi-horizontal "flying wing" upon flight. This reduces the weight of the wings because the body itself becomes most of the wing. It's more like a flying (rounded) TARDIS than a flying car :-) (I'll see if I can find the link.)
       

Practical considerations. (2, Insightful)

Valdrax (32670) | more than 4 years ago | (#31883180)

Till we all get personal nuclear power stations in our cars, they ain't going to fly. There simply isn't enough energy density in our current fuels to power a flying car safely.

You have a very strange definition of safety if putting a nuclear reactor in a flying vehicle owned and operated by random civilians is your idea of "safe." Even a well-contained (aside: heavy) RTG represents a source of dirty bomb material that you want to put out in the public's hands.

You also have to consider the clean up costs involved in scrapping such a vehicle after its useful life-span is over or it has crashed. Most metal scrapyards won't touch anything that has radioactives. You'd have to set up a specialty business to handle removing offensive components before sending the rest of the wreck off to be processed. I imagine that emergency services across the nation will love having to cart along radiation detectors as part of first response to any accident. (No matter how well you engineer containment, this will be necessary just in case.) And who all has liability if a nuclear flying car crashes into a house and does contaminate the land?

Also, do we even have electric engines capable of heavy lifting for VTOL? All the electric planes I'm aware of are light-weight models with huge wingspan (often to accommodate solar panels). I wouldn't be surprised if we did, but I'd like to ask for some examples.

Re:Practical considerations. (1)

poena.dare (306891) | more than 4 years ago | (#31883318)

I do not believe there is cause for alarm! Don't you think "personal nuclear power stations" sounds rather hyperbolic? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hyperbole [wikipedia.org]

Re:energy density (1)

darth dickinson (169021) | more than 4 years ago | (#31883628)

"Our current fuels" seem to power my Cessna 150 just fine.

Re:energy density (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31883678)

Wrong wrong wrong. The energy density of our current fuels is enough for many types of flying machines that already exist. Flying cars are no different.

Dirigibles please (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31882938)

One of the main problems with the concept of a flying car is that if the engines stop it doesn't just roll to a halt; it falls out of the sky.

We need to get away from this idea of flying cars as small jet planes and think more about personal blimps. Let's quit trying to fly and start floating.

Oh and helium is impractical. Bring back hydrogen. Sure it's explosive - but so is the stuff you put in your car! We give up on it because of one infamous accident? Hardly rational.

Re:Dirigibles please (2, Informative)

Culture20 (968837) | more than 4 years ago | (#31883792)

Oh and helium is impractical. Bring back hydrogen. Sure it's explosive - but so is the stuff you put in your car!

Do you drive a race car? Gasoline/Petrol is not explosive. It's actually pretty safe compared to H2. Fill a bucket with gasoline and throw a lit match in; it douses the match. The vapor is flammable, but the liquid isn't. Using huge volumes of Hydrogen safely in flimsy containers is not a simple undertaking, especially if every Tom Dick and Harry has one.

Flying Cars Energy Hogs By Nature (4, Interesting)

cmholm (69081) | more than 4 years ago | (#31882972)

Unless someone develops a low energy input, low mass anti-gravity mechanism, flying cars are never going to be commonplace, merely niche vehicles.

The why should be obvious: it takes a lot of energy to get one in the air. Even standard small prop aircraft gets middling mileage [cessna150152.com] , and earns points only by its ability to fly in a straight line. However, it needs a lot of room for take off and landing.

Hence, a practical flying car needs to be VTOL, which is by its nature very energy inefficient.

Re:Flying Cars Energy Hogs By Nature (1)

Macka (9388) | more than 4 years ago | (#31883150)

Not to mention a VTOL car would be very noisy and incredibly messy, what with its air displacement chucking dirt, stones, grit and leaves all over the place. Maybe in a couple of thousand years technology will have solutions to these problems, but right now every day family flying cars are pure science fiction: and actually, that's kind of nice.

Re:Flying Cars Energy Hogs By Nature (2, Informative)

random string of num (1676550) | more than 4 years ago | (#31883226)

That's a bit rich comparing a Cessna c1950 to a Honda accord c2009. Try something more contemporary aircraft like a Grob. The old Rolls Royce continental engines Cessna's use aren't exactly what you would call efficient. where as Honda and a lot of other care manufacturers have been under pressure to make large strives for fuel efficiency! anyway I am going of topic on a rather boring bit of news, I was actually expecting a physical item, like the DARPA bigdog http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VXJZVZFRFJc&feature=related [youtube.com] , instead of some imaginary car that some very interesting, and generic research will be based around.

Re:Flying Cars Energy Hogs By Nature (1)

samkass (174571) | more than 4 years ago | (#31883228)

Even standard small prop aircraft gets middling mileage, and earns points only by its ability to fly in a straight line.

So you're comparing a plane designed 40-50 years ago with a brand new invention? Put a good diesel engine (that can burn Jet A) and clean up the aerodynamics and you'll be far more efficient AND remove the lead from the fuel. Of course, super-clean-flying planes are somewhat harder for a new pilot to handle since it's harder to bleed off speed on landing. While I agree it's probably impractical, I don't think it's as clear-cut as you imply.

Flying Cars Are Stupid (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31883268)

I agree. The problems with flying cars for the masses are many, well-known and insurmountable. The use of any propulsion technology that pushes a propellant at high speed is not only wasteful of energy but also unhealthy (lots of dust in the air) and highly dangerous (you can't stop or turn quickly enough).

Having said that, it does not mean that we'll never have flying vehicles. A new analysis of the causality of motion reveals that good old Aristotle was right to insist that inertial motion is caused. As a result, we are immersed in an immense lattice of energetic particles. No lattice => no motion. Soon, we'll be able to tap into this energy field for both energy production and transportation. We'll have vehicles that have no need of wheels, travel at tremendous speeds and negotiate right angle turns without slowing down and without incurring any damage due to inertial effects. How much energy is there, you ask? Lots and lots of it, more than we'll ever need, enough to float entire cities in the sky if we so desire. New York to Beijing in minutes, earth to Mars in hours; that's the future of energy and transportation.

Read Physics: The Problem with Motion [blogspot.com] for more on this exciting development.

Re:Flying Cars Energy Hogs By Nature (1)

gmuslera (3436) | more than 4 years ago | (#31883420)

So basically for getting flying cars we need MrFusion, antigrav technology that could be used from vehicles ranging from big trucks to hoverboards, and last but not least, time machines on DeLoreans already developed in the 80's by crazy scientists. All of that existed, then all that universe got rebooted after someone bumped accidentally against himself, and unfortunatelly this new universe lack the required capabilities.

Anyway, don't lose hope. Maybe there is another kind of backdoor (as the time travel one got closed) that could enable us to travel fast without worrying on flying or antigrav, at least if you aren't troubled on DNA sharing with a fly.

Re:Flying Cars Energy Hogs By Nature (1)

phantomfive (622387) | more than 4 years ago | (#31883686)

The army doesn't care, this vehicle would get rid of the threat of roadside bombs, which are the most deadly weapon Al Qaeda commonly uses right now. It's easy to see why the army would like it.

There goes the old saying out the window ---- (3, Funny)

bagboy (630125) | more than 4 years ago | (#31882976)

"You're more likely to die in a car accident than while flying"...

Re:There goes the old saying out the window ---- (2, Insightful)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 4 years ago | (#31883000)

Wait... if it's a flying car, does it count as both a "car accident" AND a "while flying" accident? In which case, the adage doesn't change.

Re:There goes the old saying out the window ---- (1)

M8e (1008767) | more than 4 years ago | (#31883168)

You are also more likely to die in a plane accident than while driving.

I smell another bradley coming (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31883002)

A tank for all uses! An APC, an Anti-Aircraft platform, a partial amphibious landing craft....

I bet this gets stuck in review after review and never gets out of the design cycle, everyone will want their custom use of the vehicle. Nobody wants a plastic/composite/aluminum body cause it puts "their boys" at unnecessary risk but in order to meet the operational requirements that's what they'll end up with, and then it'll go back to review as soon as they crash test/burn test the unit and get heavier, then they'll need to remove "add-ons" that got put in the development stages, and then it won't get support to go through for the decisionmaker that's "add-on" got cut, and then it'll die.

*sigh* nice idea though

Trickle down technology (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31883010)

I honestly don't believe we will get any sort of a flying vehicle out of this, but that is okay if this research leads to better battery systems for electric vehicles. In the 90's DARPA wanted military field medics to have "tri-corders". The funding of that research vastly accelerated the development of highly portable Ultrasound systems on the market today. This project is money well spent even if we don't get our flying cars, IMHO.

Will never get off the ground (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31883016)

Even if DARPA actually makes it work, Paramount will annihilate them in court for copyright violation.

I haven't... (4, Insightful)

Valdrax (32670) | more than 4 years ago | (#31883030)

OK, we've all whined about the fact that we are now firmly entrenched in the 21st Century and no flying cars.

No, I'm pretty sure I consider that to be a feature and not a bug in our technological progress. Movement in three dimensions is a waste of fuel for most tasks, and a humongous safety hazard in the hands of most drivers as well as in the case of engineering failure.

I don't want flying cars; I want cars that can drive themselves more safely than people can. That's my SF car of the future.

Re:I haven't... (2, Funny)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 4 years ago | (#31883102)

I bet your a lot of fun at parties.

Well, speaking of parties... (1)

Valdrax (32670) | more than 4 years ago | (#31883284)

A car that drives its self means no more designated drivers or having to wait to sober up before going home. It means the party can continue all the way home. ...If you know what I mean.

A flying car is just a waste of fuel & money that could be better spent on booze. :P

Re:I haven't... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31883108)

I don't want flying cars; I want cars that can drive themselves more safely than people can. That's my SF car of the future.

You mean, like trains?

Re:I haven't... (1)

Belial6 (794905) | more than 4 years ago | (#31883354)

Trains are actually a very good solution once you overcome the fact that they only run on the rails. Of course, that is simple to solve. Make the trains flatbeds with stations that have ramps on both sides so that the commuters can drive their flexible cars up one side and park on the train. Then the commuter can sit and enjoy the personal space, cleanliness, and storage capabilities of their car, as well as the ability to sleep, read, work, or chat with the other passenger offered by mass transit, while the train takes them relatively close to their destination in a much safer and more fuel efficient manner. They can then drive down the ramp at the other end and have all the benefited of a car at their destination.

Trains are great, but like most mass transit, it has a serious last mile and edge case problem. The problem is easily solve with only a small amount of imagination though. Unfortunately, there are too many people involved in mass transit planning that either do it for show, or think that any use of cars is evil.

Re:I haven't... (1)

dissy (172727) | more than 4 years ago | (#31883356)

I don't want flying cars; I want cars that can drive themselves more safely than people can. That's my SF car of the future.

You mean, like trains?

To be fair, even in countries with very well off public transportation, the majority of people live in the same city as they work, and a train will not run door to door or even close.

In the US at least, there are plenty of places you are lucky to find ONE train station in a city, and its sole purpose is taking you in or out of said city.

As a car replacement option, walking would be a better replacement, as with all the suck that comes with walking, at least it will eventually do the same thing as driving (IE get you to and from the places you want to get at 99% of the time)

Re:I haven't... (1)

sourcerror (1718066) | more than 4 years ago | (#31883560)

Well, a tram is pretty much a train that runs in the city. They're quite popular in European cities (and we don't have that stupid power line on the ground either.)

Re:I haven't... (1)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 4 years ago | (#31883122)

Movement in three dimensions is a waste of fuel

But waiting in traffic is a waste of time.

I'm hoping it will be practical to park such vehicles in the sun and be coated with solar panels so as to mostly charge themselves between commuting. The top of buildings would make great parking spots (if reinforced). I realize, though, that flying takes a lot of energy.

Re:I haven't... (2, Interesting)

Valdrax (32670) | more than 4 years ago | (#31883272)

But waiting in traffic is a waste of time.

Traffic will not vanish just because people can fly in three dimensions. Without auto-drive, there will still be a clear need for channeled traffic to avoid collisions between people just flying off in any direction. It won't be a free for all unless you really do want cars dropping out of the sky on a daily basis.

With auto-drive, many traffic jams can be made to vanish. Most congestion is the result of pressure waves from human drivers starting, stopping, refusing to let other people over, gawking at unnecessary accidents, etc. Universal, intelligent driving could eliminate stop-and-go traffic entirely and reduce slow-downs immensely.

I'm hoping it will be practical to park such vehicles in the sun and be coated with solar panels so as to mostly charge themselves between commuting. The top of buildings would make great parking spots (if reinforced). I realize, though, that flying takes a lot of energy.

Flying takes a LOT more energy than driving, and we don't even have practical solar family cars yet. Most prototype flying cars we've seen only carry 1-2 people (no cargo) and get mileage on par with a mediocre 4-person sedan. Even 2D, land-based solar cars are a fantasy unless we get major advances in solar cell efficiency.

Re:I haven't... (1)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 4 years ago | (#31883524)

Traffic will not vanish just because people can fly in three dimensions. Without auto-drive, there will still be a clear need for channeled traffic to avoid collisions

I expect it will be auto-drive (per other messages). But even if not, a few more lanes in the sky will still make more through-put because flyers are no longer drivers.

However, population density in the west is often limited by roads/traffic, not housing density, meaning more lanes will just increase population.

Re:I haven't... (1)

vadim_t (324782) | more than 4 years ago | (#31883576)

Better solar cells won't help. There's about 1.36 kW/m^2 that comes from the Sun, before taking the atmosphere into account. On the surface that's reduced to about 1 kW/m^2 in the best cases. If there are any clouds, you get much less. If it's winter, you get much less. If you're far from the equator, you get much less. And all those things can combine as well.

I don't think a solar car will ever be practical even in tropical countries, because the amount of energy that can be gathered in perfect conditions with a perfect solar panel by something the size of a normal car is still not that large. Something the size of a SUV in absolutely perfect conditions would top out at 4 HP.

Solar could help if you've got a panel on your house's roof, or the road itself is a huge solar panel. But an actual solar car seems mostly pointless except as a tech demo.

Tom Swift... (1)

rueger (210566) | more than 4 years ago | (#31883068)

...pulled this off four or five decades ago! [tomswift.info] In Asia as I recall.

Inventors these days just don't cut the mustard!

Blade Runner style (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31883086)

No kidding [scrapetv.com]

Worst case senario (1)

xbeefsupreme (1690182) | more than 4 years ago | (#31883106)

If you run out of fuel in a regular car, the worst case scenario is that you end up late to where-ever you were going and have to spend money replacing fuel injectors. If you run out of fuel in a flying car, it would fall into the ground damaging or destroying both the car and whatever/whoever you land on depending on how high off the ground you are. Sure, you can implement fuel warnings, but some-one is inevitably going to ignore it or it could not work properly.

Re:Worst case senario (1)

6Yankee (597075) | more than 4 years ago | (#31883164)

Ballistic recovery chute would take care of that.

Even if I could afford a flying car, the cost of replacing said chute would certainly make [b]me[/b] think twice about running out of fuel...

Re:Worst case senario (1)

icebraining (1313345) | more than 4 years ago | (#31883618)

That's why they won't be "drivable". An automated driving system won't ignore warnings.

Great (1)

OrwellianLurker (1739950) | more than 4 years ago | (#31883158)

So I can now get stuck behind seniors who are FLYING.

How about Duke Nukem Forever? (2, Insightful)

Svartormr (692822) | more than 4 years ago | (#31883192)

Let's give DARPA a real challenge!

DARPA projects and failure... (0)

damn_registrars (1103043) | more than 4 years ago | (#31883218)

Like all DARPA projects Transformer TX is unlikely to succeed at all

Yeah, because that bullshit with networking computers - now that was a failure! I don't know why the government ever invested in such a worthless idea... And with a track record like that I don't think I want DARPA working on anything of any importance, ever again.

Re:DARPA projects and failure... (1)

dissy (172727) | more than 4 years ago | (#31883398)

The ARPAnet pretty much was a failure, at least if you look at the goals list they had when inventing it.

This is the main reason they sold it off to the commercial phone companies, and changed its name to the Internet.

Once new goals were put in place, the technology worked pretty well for it. Much better than the original goals.

In fact even back in 1992 before the web took off, most people online didn't know of the existence of ARPAnet, only the Internet. No one but us geeks even remembers ARPAnet today.

That should show how successful each project was to the layman.
One disappeared into non-existence, the other changed most peoples way of life.

No problem, just cost and fuel economy. (3, Interesting)

Animats (122034) | more than 4 years ago | (#31883244)

There's no fundamental problem in building a modest-size VTOL craft. Many have been built. The fuel consumption and cost will be high, but for the military, that's OK.

The big problem back in the 1950s was stability. Now that unstable aircraft are routinely computer-stabilized, that's far less of a problem. It's going to need a jet engine. Piston engines don't have the power to weight ratio needed. That's what runs up the cost. A basic problem with jet engines is that they don't get much cheaper below small bizjet size. That's why general aviation is still piston-powered, despite Williams, etc.

It's not going to be a pure-thrust VTOL, like the Harrier. That takes so much engine power that it's only feasible for fighters, which are mostly engine anyway. Ducted fans, maybe. Successful ducted-fan aircraft [wikipedia.org] have been built, and with modern stabilization, there are several robotic ducted-fan craft. With better stablization, the fans can be pulled in closer to the body, making for a much more compact craft.

There's a new Israeli ducted-fan craft, the AirMule [aviationweek.com] , which is currently in early flight test and can hover tethered.

A big problem with single-engine VTOL aircraft is that they fall like a rock if they lose engine power. Aircraft can glide and helicopters can autorotate, but VTOLs can do neither. Ejection seats are indicated.

Flying cars scare me (1)

Alcoholist (160427) | more than 4 years ago | (#31883254)

I don't know about you, but I don't ever want to see flying cars. Most people can barely figure out how to safely operate a wheeled car in two dimensions. Imagine how nuts it would be if we added a third.

Re:Flying cars scare me (1)

Conspiracy_Of_Doves (236787) | more than 4 years ago | (#31883592)

Don't worry. If we ever get real flying cars, people won't actually be controlling them. You'll just input your destination and the onboard computer (which is in communication with the computers of all the other cars in your vicinity) will fly you there. No one will be allowed to actually control one themselves without the equivalent of a present-day pilot's license.

I can see it now... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31883278)

...airborne signs reading "$500.00 fine for texting while flying...

This is the wrong path. (1)

crhylove (205956) | more than 4 years ago | (#31883286)

Lighter than air dirigibles are clearly a superior technology, with all the necessary engineering to free us from our reliance on grounded transportation. Zeppelin technology can be safe, efficient, cheap, and reliable in most of the world (barring extremely windy climates). The problem isn't technology. The problem is economic interests who promote the status quo. Just like in most of the issues facing American society.
 

What do you mean no flying cars? (1)

eugene2k (1213062) | more than 4 years ago | (#31883296)

I seem to recall Fantomas having one! Here it is! [home.wtal.de]

Such an advance... (1)

rickb928 (945187) | more than 4 years ago | (#31883432)

So I can get t-boned by a drunk from two more directions? No thanks. Drivers have enough problems dealing with two dimensions. Auto-pilot will take a few more years to perfect, right?

Finally (1)

LifesABeach (234436) | more than 4 years ago | (#31883458)

Something to avoid the traffic on the 405, and 91 Freeways? DARPA now, has my complete attention. Maybe they could use some more funding?

Real futuristic cars... (1)

Revenger75 (1246176) | more than 4 years ago | (#31883548)

I don't know about you, but I don't want a flying car generating lift with ducted airflow or jet engines. I want my flying car to be equipped with anti-"insert natural law here" devices. Just saying...

Bad Idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31883550)

Flying cars are a VERY bad idea. Drivers aren't making it in two dimensions. Add another dimension and you're going to make the accident rate go up exponentially.

Not only that but I REALLY do NOT want people flying over my home and land. It is bad enough with the illegal ATV, snowmobile and light plane traffic. If flying cars were a reality it would create enormous amounts of noise pollution and invasion of privacy.

If they get flying cars I want to be allowed to use my anti-aircraft weapons.

Cars are resource inefficient (2, Interesting)

prefec2 (875483) | more than 4 years ago | (#31883556)

Cars are expensive to build (in matter of resources). Cars are not very energy efficient only a fraction of the energy is used for motion the rest converted into heat. Furthermore a cars weight is approx 1.5 t to 2 t (1500-2000kg) and these 1500 kg are used to move around 80-150 kg. On top of that, the average speed of a car in a city is 15-25 km/h (depends on the study) which also achievable with a bike. Furthermore cars tend to stay unused most of their time. For example people drive to their job in the morning 1-2 hours and the same time back, which accumulates to 4 hours. And the other 20 hours a day they are parked somewhere. Most people have a garage at home for the car and at work there is also a parking lot and you need a lot of roads for them. This results in an average use of land area in a city of 50% for cars. The rest is for parks, houses, railroads, planes etc.

As we are going to run out of resources (oil, lithium, copper, and many more) it might be sensible to develop a more resource efficient people mover and if possible a way to reduce the need of using public transportation systems. For example: Many bankers and traders use their car to get to the city then they use an elevator to get to their office. While the boss is on level 12 the other are on level 10 and normally they do not see each other in person for days. Instead they use this awkward piece of equipment called phone to communicate. So why have all these people to use any transportation device to get from the suburbs to the city center when they easily could just stay there and work in distributed offices just together with their coworkers. And definitely outside the city center. And they could still talk to the boss on phone. Ok nobody would need bank towers anymore. But think of it. No bank towers no fear from terrorists in planes.

But instead of being reasonable we build flying cars for the troops. So they can fight abroad for ... what was it again? Never mind.

"Unlikely to succeed" (1)

Conspiracy_Of_Doves (236787) | more than 4 years ago | (#31883578)

Like all DARPA projects Transformer TX is unlikely to succeed at all.

Unlike, you know, that whole "Internet" thing.

Need anti-grav (1)

CohibaVancouver (864662) | more than 4 years ago | (#31883584)

The public view of a 'flying car' is what George Jetson drove, Korben Dallas's taxi or the Doc's Delorean after its hover-conversion. Until you have anti-gravity technology you ain't got no flying car in the public's books - You just have another version of an aircraft.

yuo Fail it? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31883586)

to make sure the BitTorrent) Second, every day...LIke Dist8o is done Here

"Pancake" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31883604)

I love the Manta in UT2004.

Nope. The V22 has enough troubles (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31883642)

The troubled V22 Osprey has been under development for over 20 years, and it is STILL troublesome. It is the ONLY mass produced airplane/helocopter hybrid out there. Because of the tight tolerances, the Osprey lacks a big machine gun, good windows, autorotation in case of failure, and has a high failure rate. And it costs ~$100 million. It ain't going to be good for civilian use.

On the other hand, having a few hundred of these on September 11th, 2001... The ability to plop down a few thousand Marines from ships several hundred miles away, conduct a surprise raid, then conduct another raid several hundred miles away several hours later is very handy.

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