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DOT Exempts Maker of 'Flying Car' From Road Vehicle Safety Rules

Soulskill posted about 3 years ago | from the great-now-i-can-text-and-flydrive dept.

Transportation 142

Stirfry192 writes with news that Terrafugia, makers of a vehicle alternately called a 'flying car' or 'roadable aircraft,' have been granted a three-year exemption to federal motor vehicle safety rules in order to foster further development and innovation. "The DOT granted the three-year 'hardship' exemption because it bought the argument from Terrafugia that its attempt to comply with DOT regulations at the same time as Federal Aviation Administration rules would be prohibitively expensive. Terrafugia had argued that an exemption would allow it more time to research more appropriate solutions to the requirements at the same time as making the flying car a feasible project. The company, an MIT spin-off located in Woburn, Mass. intends to use motor-cycle tires and rims instead of tires usually used for regular cars. The purpose is to minimize the weight of the craft."

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142 comments

Bad Precedent (2)

retroworks (652802) | about 3 years ago | (#36670644)

Next thing you know, flying carseats will be exempted. This is a slippery slope.

Re:Bad Precedent (1)

trum4n (982031) | about 3 years ago | (#36670748)

Could be good. Maybe they might pay enough attention to make national rules for the inspection of electric vehicles. I live in PA, and i'm going to pay 250$ for a mechanic to give me a sticker(PA enhanced inspection), when he told me, he literally makes up the rules.

Re:Bad Precedent (4, Informative)

vlm (69642) | about 3 years ago | (#36670864)

Could be good. Maybe they might pay enough attention to make national rules for the inspection of electric vehicles. I live in PA, ... when he told me, he literally makes up the rules.

Move to a better state. In WI, you have to prove the car can keep up with traffic aka is not a low speed vehicle like a tractor, by exceeding 35 MPH or so in a straight line, and then prove your brakes work by going from 60 to 0 in less than X feet where X is frankly not terribly impressive (something like 250 feet? Even a SUV can do that). Also if your chassis, the VIN of your vehicle, is newer than 1996 and you live in an emissions testing county you have to have a visual inspection every two years to prove there's no IC engine in the car. They have no concern if you tow a trailer with a completely non-emissions controlled gas generator on it, they only care about the car itself.

I have not checked the rules in some years, but this is how it was a decade or so ago. Exactly the same (non-emission) rules for any kit or custom car, not just electric. Can you keep up with traffic, can you stop safely, and can you not vomit pollution out the tailpipe?

Convincing your car insurance company to insure you, you're legally required to buy, they are not legally required to sell, thats a whole nother ball game. I suspect if anyone successfully starts selling electric cars, GM/Ford/etc will buy the car insurance companies with instructions to never insure an electric car.

Effects of moving on families (1)

tepples (727027) | about 3 years ago | (#36670908)

You recommend moving to a better state to escape oppressive statutes. In such a case, what's the best practice to find a job for both oneself and one's spouse or life partner, or to make sure that one's elderly parents are taken care of?

Re:Effects of moving on families (2)

vlm (69642) | about 3 years ago | (#36671624)

You recommend moving to a better state to escape oppressive statutes. In such a case, what's the best practice to find a job for both oneself and one's spouse or life partner, or to make sure that one's elderly parents are taken care of?

Sounds like you live out west where you need a jetliner to go from one state to another. He lives out east where there are states smaller than the midwestern county I live in, I believe Rhode Island could easily fit in my county with room to spare.

A crude analogy is on the east cost, state to state is a couple hours walk, in the upper midwest heartland state to state is a couple hours drive, and in the west and southwest state to state is an hours flight.

So if you live out west, yeah that idea is a problem. Where I live it means a "long" commute but no big deal. Where he lives, if it were not for collapsing infrastructure and high traffic, it would be considered a short commute.

Re:Bad Precedent (1)

trum4n (982031) | about 3 years ago | (#36671464)

Actually, insurance is easy, Erie already promised me coververage.

Re:Bad Precedent (1)

Pope (17780) | about 3 years ago | (#36671550)

Do you mean Erin? Are you sure she didn't just promise you cleavage?

Re:Bad Precedent (3, Insightful)

qwijibo (101731) | about 3 years ago | (#36671472)

I suspect that in general, the people who have the time and money to build kit/custom cars have the money to put up a bond to self-insure.

I doubt any auto maker is big enough to lock electric cars out of the market by controlling insurance companies. There will always be someone who is willing to insure electric cars if there are enough of them on the road to make it profitable. Worst case scenario would be the electric car manufacturer also being the insurer. It may be a headache for early adopters, but the market will work it out.

Re:Bad Precedent (1)

cayenne8 (626475) | about 3 years ago | (#36672380)

Move to a better state.

Exactly....when I moved out of AR..they actually STOPPED requiring car inspections. That was nice to save a couple $$ and time out of a busy day wasted getting the car inspected.

I have to get an inspection or 'brake tag' in LA now...but it is pretty easy...usually just roll up, show your headlights, windshield wipers and horn works and your outta there for $10 and 5 minutes of your time.

I've been shocked to hear about other states...particularly CA and the like, where they actually measure your exhaust levels....and pretty much ban any aftermarket add ons, especially if they are any part of the emissions line in the car (exhaust, engine mgmt chips, etc).

That has to be a royal PITA to live in those states....Thankfully some states still have some freedoms. Another good reason to fight for states rights. It gives you the choice to live in an area where the laws, people and traditions are more in line with how you want to live.

Remember, in the US, you are a citizen of your state first....of the US second.

Re:Bad Precedent (2)

Bucc5062 (856482) | about 3 years ago | (#36671002)

I use to live in that state. I called it legalized extortion. On my last shakedown...erm...I mean inspection before I moved I wanted to ask the "mechanic" for the official inspection book. On the day I dropped the car off I reconsidered citing the fact that within a month I'd be living in another state.

For the record, you can find the "official" requirements here. [pacode.com] Based on one clause I'd have to now put out $700+ to fix a very minor leak on the power steering that I currently maintain by checking fluids. One day it will be fixed, but on my timing, not the state. What was so stupid about PA was that they a lot of NJ and DE cars driving around with much more lax requirements. Safety my ass.

Re:Bad Precedent (1)

cgenman (325138) | about 3 years ago | (#36671328)

It's more a question of urban density. In an open area, a minor fluid leak isn't a big deal. It falls on some dirt or pavement, not a big deal. In downtown New York, where a stretch of road may have a car passing over it every two seconds, the occasional drippy car leads to gallons of slippery toxic chemicals being poured onto the road every day. Those chemicals can't dissipate due to being hemmed in by the surrounding buildings and the fact that everything around it is just as polluted. The same becomes true of broken windscreen glass, cars driving without headlamps, etc.

Breaking down in the middle of the old suburbs where I used to live meant pushing the car into some random 7-11 parking lot and waiting for a tow. Nobody cared except for me and the tow truck guy, and the 7-11 sold a few extra slurpies. Breaking down in downtown Boston with high-density traffic on one-lane / one-way roads is a nightmare. Not only are you stopping up traffic for hundreds of angry people and businesses, but the tow truck has problems getting to you because of the traffic that you create.

It's a question of whether the state set their statewide rules based upon what works better for rural / suburban areas, or high-density city areas.

Re:Bad Precedent (1)

NJRoadfan (1254248) | about 3 years ago | (#36671532)

Before they got rid of them last year, NJ's safety inspection was a bit of a joke. They never checked for things like dry rotted tires. A car with blown struts would pass if the springs were stiff enough. things like ripped CV boots were never checked. You would fail if your driver's side window didn't work however. Good riddance to that, now its just emissions which was always easy to pass in NJ assuming your car is remotely close to running correctly.

Re:Bad Precedent (1)

hal2814 (725639) | about 3 years ago | (#36671584)

Which clause is that? I looked over the doc and the closest I can see is a fail for leaking hydraulic lines but those are specific to the braking system. Personally, I don't think such a fail would be unreasonable. You're leaking a toxic fluid unnecessarily. Get it fixed and shop mechanics while you're at it. Unless you have a particularly parts-expensive vehicle, $700 is a lot for a complete power steering pump replacement. A leak fix can usually be solved by replacing the hoses.

Re:Bad Precedent (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36671668)

Driving around with power steering fluid dripping onto the road, where the next rainstorm will wash it into the stream? That's not good, and you should just fix it, state or not. The fact that you haven't shows me that it's a good idea to have inspections every couple of years - just to say, "hey, dumb-ass, fix this". (And don't get me wrong, I was young & dumb & did the same things too.) Every time I'm stuck behind someone with a blown head gasket I'm thankful that at least they're going to be hit with a cluestick at some point.

Re:Bad Precedent (1)

black soap (2201626) | about 3 years ago | (#36670888)

Airbags won't do too much anyway, but if they exempt seatbelts, then we'll see some carnage.

Re:Bad Precedent (1)

elrous0 (869638) | about 3 years ago | (#36671074)

It's all fun and games until someone stubs a toe.

Re:Bad Precedent (1)

obergfellja (947995) | about 3 years ago | (#36671340)

MARTY! It's your kids! Something's gotta be done about your kids! - back to the future 2 is coming to a reality. lol

Why not this too? (2)

Cornwallis (1188489) | about 3 years ago | (#36670684)

NRC Exempts Maker of 'Backyard Reactors' From Nuclear Safety Rules

Re:Why not this too? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36670834)

Because it doesn't fly. If it did, they could ask for an exemption because it would already be regulated by the FAA. Not well regulated (as a reactor), but regulated (as a flying device).

Ohh, CAPTCHA = "reassign", I see what you did there.

Re:Why not this too? (1)

SteveFoerster (136027) | about 3 years ago | (#36671576)

Great, now I totally want a nuclear-powered flying car. Thanks a lot!

Re:Why not this too? (1)

phatphoton (2099888) | about 3 years ago | (#36671282)

"Citation needed" - ....more for my own curiosity than anything...

Re:Why not this too? (1)

thunderclap (972782) | about 3 years ago | (#36672900)

Show me a "Backyard Reactor' and then we can discuss this.

Que (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36670688)

Reactionary bitching about regulations.

Re:Que (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36670736)

Que?

Re:Que (2)

biodata (1981610) | about 3 years ago | (#36670812)

Tambien: que?

Comments in subject (1)

sorak (246725) | about 3 years ago | (#36672596)

are completely __________ [google.com] . Let's see how we can make it arhred* to read your damned comment.

* rearrange the letters

Mixed Feelings on This (4, Insightful)

jonamous++ (1687704) | about 3 years ago | (#36670690)

I think this is really cool but it seems impractical. Aircraft are very expensive to maintain and you'll need a pilot certificate to fly this. It's probably cheaper to have a car and rent a plane (or, depending on the cost of this thing, just buy a used 172). The usable load is very low, as well (hopefully that 330lbs number is in addition to fuel).

I also look at this from the perspective of being a "dual-purpose" vehicle; most of which are mediocre. A common example might be a dual-sport motorcycle. It's not a great motorcycle and it's not a great dirtbike, but it can do both. Just from the looks (wings all folded up, blocking vision out of the rear windows, etc) this is not going to be a practical car. I guess we'll see how good of an airplane it will be. My question is, what problem does this solve? You drive to the airport, unfold the wings, then get out of the car and do your pre-flight? How is that different from getting out of your car and doing your pre-flight on your regular aircraft?

Either way, this seems like a neat invention. I think they'll have trouble selling 200 of these, especially if they are priced similarly to normal small aircraft, but it would be really cool to see this thing in person.

Re:Mixed Feelings on This (0, Offtopic)

trum4n (982031) | about 3 years ago | (#36670766)

TSA doesn't rape pilots.

Re:Mixed Feelings on This (1)

yt8znu35 (1202731) | about 3 years ago | (#36670936)

As a society, we are willing to overlook a few rapes for the pretense of safety. And the thefts of our electronics can be thought of as perks for low-wage workers.

Re:Mixed Feelings on This (1)

vlm (69642) | about 3 years ago | (#36670770)

My question is, what problem does this solve? You drive to the airport, unfold the wings, then get out of the car and do your pre-flight? How is that different from getting out of your car and doing your pre-flight on your regular aircraft?

Before someone chimes in with the "don't have to pay for hanger space" argument, if you can't afford hanger space then you'll never afford the annual inspection labor and parts, so its all kinda irrelevant.

Before someone chimes in with saving money by insuring only one vehicle, the likely cost of car insurance for a car as expensive as this the plane, probably exceeds the cost of buying a nice 4-door sedan every year...

The one "win" for this, is the weather is almost never bad enough to strand car drivers for more than a few hours per human generation. However the weather is often too severe for a typical light plane or a typical light plane pilot (whichever is less capable, and death statistics show the pilot never thinks he is the limiting factor). So if the airport is closed to VFR at either end, just drive... Unless of course, one airport is on an island.

The old saying still holds, if it floats, flies, or f**ks, its cheaper to rent than to own.

Re:Mixed Feelings on This (2)

GooberToo (74388) | about 3 years ago | (#36671086)

Before someone chimes in with the "don't have to pay for hanger space" argument, if you can't afford hanger space then you'll never afford the annual inspection labor and parts, so its all kinda irrelevant.

Not true at all. At some airports, hangar fees can be directly comparable to the price of the aircraft, assuming your aircraft isn't new. Your argument makes as much sense as saying, if you can't afford to buy two cars for yourself, you shouldn't bother to buy one.

Hangar prices vary dramatically from area to area and especially airport to airport. A modest hanger which costs $75/mo at one place may cost $250/mo, and up, at another.

Re:Mixed Feelings on This (1)

icebrain (944107) | about 3 years ago | (#36671842)

Before someone chimes in with the "don't have to pay for hanger space" argument, if you can't afford hanger space then you'll never afford the annual inspection labor and parts, so its all kinda irrelevant.

Not always true. If you do the maintenance yourself (either you're an A&P, or you built the airplane yourself) then hangar costs are a bigger factor. Homebuilding is even cheaper in this regard because you have more flexibility with parts.

As a side note, this is exactly why I haven't yet worked out a deal to keep my dad's RV-6 on a part-time basis. I can afford to fuel it and buy the occasional part (he covers the insurance), but I can't pay the $400-500/month hangar cost for our local airport on top of that. So, I'm limited to flying it when we go to visit them every couple months.

But back on topic, I think the two major selling points are (1) novelty, and (2) being able to divert to a nearby airfield and drive the rest of the way if weather shuts down your primary destination.

Re:Mixed Feelings on This (1)

Sinthet (2081954) | about 3 years ago | (#36670792)

I saw a prototype of these at MIT a few months back, and your point stands 100%. Really cool, but kinda impractical. My guess is that their client base is going to be limited to geeks with money, probably big money.

Re:Mixed Feelings on This (2)

bhtooefr (649901) | about 3 years ago | (#36670818)

Well, part of their problem is that they're actually NOT going for a class that requires a full pilot's license. They're going for the Light Sport Aircraft class (and have had to get exceptions from both the FAA and NHTSA due to that), which has much less stringent requirements for licensing, with the downside that there are more restrictions on when and how you can fly.

Re:Mixed Feelings on This (3, Insightful)

sapphire wyvern (1153271) | about 3 years ago | (#36670858)

This isn't a flying car. It's a driveable aircraft. I think the main problem it solves is that with a conventional light aircraft, you drive to the airport, pre-flight your aircraft, take off, fly to your destination, land... and then you're stuck. Many light aircraft airports don't have car hire facilities nearby, and they're often some way from any place you actually want to be. With the Terrafugia, you can at least in principal land the thing at an airfield and then drive it to your final destination (eg a hotel or tourist landmark or business or whatever).

On the other hand I'm not sure how much I'd want to drive this thing on the road. Seems like it would be a great way to ruin your airplane. And, furthermore, you'd have to count on there being adequate garaging facilities at your destination; I don't think this vehicle would want to be outside in heavy weather.

Re:Mixed Feelings on This (2)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 3 years ago | (#36671136)

People leave planes outside through all kinds of nasty weather when they can't afford hangars or none are available; they strap them down to ground cleats and the process is called a tie-down. My local muni airport has both hangars and tie-downs available. Since this thing folds up into a car, though, it seems like it would be easy to cover. If you live near the airport then this means you don't need a hangar, just keep the thing at your house, covered. Lots of richie rich mofos live near airstrips. There's several in this county...

Re:Mixed Feelings on This (2)

Deadstick (535032) | about 3 years ago | (#36671802)

Yes, you can leave an airplane outside in moderately bad weather...on an airport. Did you ever leave one in a parking lot?

Look at the Terrafugia in the folded-up mode. Everything on its periphery is an aerodynamic surface of one kind or another, and by automotive standards these are absurdly fragile. One parking-lot ding will ground your quarter-million-dollar machine until it's been worked over by an aircraft repair shop at aircraft repair prices.

rj

Re:Mixed Feelings on This (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36671236)

The main problem with aviation is not one but two. The first is that liability costs drive up the cost of flying horribly, putting the cost into a death spiral, where lower volumes increase prices even more, reducing the number of people who can afford to fly. The other problem is that FAA certification costs prevent safety improvements and drive up the price of new aircraft, exacerbating the death spiral. Terrafugia is going to fail, not because of technology, but because their market is literally dying. The average pilot age is 45 now, and most light aircraft for sale under $100K were built before 1978. Liability reform is critical, and the the FAA has to decide that there's a different certification burden appropriate for GA than for regularly scheduled airlines.

Re:Mixed Feelings on This (1)

MobyDisk (75490) | about 3 years ago | (#36671982)

On the other hand I'm not sure how much I'd want to drive this thing on the road

If we had the infrastructure for a vehicle like this, you wouldn't need to drive far. You might fly to school or work in the morning, and there might be an airstrip 1/2 kilometer away so you don't have to drive very far to get to the parking garage.

Re:Mixed Feelings on This (1)

fortyonejb (1116789) | about 3 years ago | (#36670880)

Well, I guess the one difference is once you reach your destination you still have your means of travel. The one thing you overlooked is after you fly your plane to point B, you then either need to own a second car, or need to rent.

It's not a huge benefit, but I can see someone who's hopping around states travelling a lot might get some use, yes it is still rather impractical

Re:Mixed Feelings on This (1)

WillAdams (45638) | about 3 years ago | (#36670890)

The difference is, when you land at your destination you don't have to rent a second car --- you just fold and secure the wings, then drive off the tarmace and onto the highway.

Re:Mixed Feelings on This (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36670982)

> My question is, what problem does this solve? You drive to the airport, unfold the wings, then get out of the car
> and do your pre-flight? How is that different from getting out of your car and doing your pre-flight on your regular
> aircraft?

Dude, you are thinking about this backwards. It's a "roadable aircraft", not a "flying car". It's not that you fly it where there is no road, rather, you drive it where there is no air.

Re:Mixed Feelings on This (1)

cgenman (325138) | about 3 years ago | (#36671426)

It's a flying car. I was promised these in the 50's. Like jetpacks, laser guns, space colonies, and superheroes, it doesn't matter how practical or impractical they are: they're bred into our human souls.

And I do know a lot of aid workers for whom the ability to drive to an airport, fly out, land at an airstrip in the middle of nowhere, and drive on would be very practical.

But quite frankly, it could solve world hunger and it still wouldn't change the fact that building it is a moral imperative. It's a flying car.

Re:Mixed Feelings on This (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36671732)

Marty McFly: Doc, we better back up. We don't have enough road to get up to 88.
Dr. Emmett Brown: Roads? Where we're going, we don't need roads.

Makes it completely worth it.

Re:Mixed Feelings on This (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36672576)

I saw a quote at a air museum regarding the flying car, which has had many attempts over many decades. the quote read something like "A flying car is can be neither a great car, nor a great plane. Cars should be designed to remain in contact with the roadway at all times. Planes should do the opposite."

Motorcycle Wheels (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36670692)

I know you yanks do not like corners; but motorcycle wheels are not designed to take large lateral loadings . . .

Re:Motorcycle Wheels (1)

nukenerd (172703) | about 3 years ago | (#36670810)

... unless it is a sidecar outfit. I would say that road corners will need to be taken very cautiously anyway, if you are not to turn that thing over.

Re:Motorcycle Wheels (2)

sunderland56 (621843) | about 3 years ago | (#36670894)

Sidecars constructed for performance use automobile wheels and tyres, both for the lateral loading issue and also to put more rubber on the road (motorcycle tyres have a round profile, and put much less rubber on the road than even an economy car tyre).

Terrafugia is missing an idea here - build the "car" with only three wheels, and submit it to DOT as a motorcycle, not a car. Then they can continue to use the bike tyres and wheels, while cutting the cost of running the vehicle (in many states, registering a motorcycle costs much less than a car).

Re:Motorcycle Wheels (1)

Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) | about 3 years ago | (#36670822)

I know you yanks do not like corners; but motorcycle wheels are not designed to take large lateral loadings . .

Phew, good thing you told me, I was about to buy a sidecar...

I applaud the DOT for fostering this advancement (1)

mekkab (133181) | about 3 years ago | (#36670696)

of completely hare-brained ideas that looked great in the cartoons I grew up with but are not currently feasible. Who knows? Maybe they'll make the darn thing work and not cost a mint!

Don't let regulation stand in the way of Gravity; the later is a cruel master and an important teacher.

Motor-cycle (1)

Spy Handler (822350) | about 3 years ago | (#36670710)

so it's an aero-plane that transforms into an auto-mobile, but used motor-cycle tires... very inter-resting

Re:Motor-cycle (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36670756)

Can it be made to float on water too? That should be just sufficient enough to cause regulators' brains to explode on sight.

Re:Motor-cycle (1)

digitig (1056110) | about 3 years ago | (#36670980)

I though it had already been done [youtube.com] .

Re:Motor-cycle (1)

DigiShaman (671371) | about 3 years ago | (#36670892)

Until you get into a finder bender. Sure, it might drive on the road with all the rest, but would it now be considered flight worthy?

330 lbs load (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36670716)

They want to sell it to Americans with a load limit of 150kg?

The Windshield (1)

SniperJoe (1984152) | about 3 years ago | (#36670722)

I can't say I'm surprised by the windshield exemption. That's an aircraft vs. car issue. The two are designed completely differently (maintaining visibility vs. maintaining integrity).

I am intrigued at the idea of commuting by air though. My employer often brings in people to discuss commuting options (as traffic is somewhat fickle here in Atlanta) and none of them would even discuss the potential of commuting via gyrocopter with me.

Re:The Windshield (1)

Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) | about 3 years ago | (#36670798)

I am intrigued at the idea of commuting by air though. My employer often brings in people to discuss commuting options (as traffic is somewhat fickle here in Atlanta) and none of them would even discuss the potential of commuting via gyrocopter with me.

I've read many times a comment that's particularly relevant here: there are enough idiots, mayhem and disasters on a 2 dimensional road network without adding a 3rd dimension into the picture.

Flying cars (or drivable aircraft) for the average Joe Blow will never happen for that very reason, and that's also why nobody is discussing that option as a commuting solution seriously. As for people who already hold a pilot's license, they're an incredibly small minority, and I don't think any of them wants to buy a machine that's a mediocre airplane and a mediocre car at the same time for the price of a Cessna.

Re:The Windshield (2)

SniperJoe (1984152) | about 3 years ago | (#36670884)

Oh, I don't doubt that one bit. I've seen more than my fair share of idiots on the road (here in Atlanta as well as when I used to live in South Florida). I'm inclined to agree that the reasons you stated above point to why flying cars just won't happen (outside of complete AI control) and that pilots will tend to avoid mediocre hybrids. I still want to buy a gyrocopter though. Commuting was going to be my ticket to justify it, but alas, it shall have to wait.

Re:The Windshield (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36670928)

Unless you live way out, I do not think this thing would help with commute times. Charlie Brown and Hartsfield are not examples of happy traffic areas.

Re:The Windshield (1)

cayenne8 (626475) | about 3 years ago | (#36672428)

Hmm...wonder what the fines are going to be for FWI?

And how would they pull you over while in the air?

Re:The Windshield (1)

SDF-7 (556604) | about 3 years ago | (#36671288)

You just don't want those danged Duke boys to keep going in the middle of that canyon jump, Sherrif Coltrane.

Re:The Windshield (1)

cgenman (325138) | about 3 years ago | (#36671674)

Generally when you add a dimension, the likelyhood of intersecting lines goes down. Really the 3rd dimension should make everything easier and simpler, except for the fact that your 3 dimensions are Left, Right, and FALLING.

Since we can build a flying network from the ground-up, we could define that all commuter fliers need to have HUDS delineating road boundaries, pointing out other fliers, and where autopilot is the norm. Add in decentralized navigation systems between fliers connecting intermittently with a central database, and it should work out.

Want to know where your flying car is? (1)

brian0918 (638904) | about 3 years ago | (#36670742)

to comply with DOT regulations at the same time as Federal Aviation Administration rules would be prohibitively expensive

That is why you won't have a flying car by 2015.

Re:Want to know where your flying car is? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36670846)

to comply with DOT regulations at the same time as Federal Aviation Administration rules would be prohibitively expensive

That is why you won't have a flying car by 2015.

Which is why the entire point of this fucking article is that the DOT exempted the vehicle from their regulations, making your "reason" complete and utter bullshit and exposing you as a total fucktard.

Of course you still won't see flying cars by 2015 or any other date. But it's got nothing to do with regulations. It's because every aspect of the reality of a flying car is beyond absurd.

Re:Want to know where your flying car is? (2)

brian0918 (638904) | about 3 years ago | (#36670954)

making your "reason" complete and utter bullshit and exposing you as a total fucktard.

Sorry, not the case. Re-read my post - I said "why you won't have a flying car by 2015". Given that this company is just now getting exemption, there is absolutely no way they will have it developed to the point of production in 4 years. Had the regulations not existed in the first place, there would likely have been multiple competitors in the market by now.

every aspect of the reality of a flying car is beyond absurd

That's the entrepreneurial spirit that makes America so great!....

Re:Want to know where your flying car is? (1)

wjsteele (255130) | about 3 years ago | (#36671242)

You do realize, however, that they're almost ready for production now. Their first prototype has already flown and they're now building the first production conforming prototypes right now. They'll be flying by later this year with production beginning next year. So, it seems your 2015 date is way off.

I've been to their facility near Boston and I've seen the progress they are making and I can assure you, they'll be flying and in production way before then.

Bill

Re:Want to know where your flying car is? (1)

brian0918 (638904) | about 3 years ago | (#36672348)

But where's my Mr. Fusion to go with it?!?!

Re:Want to know where your flying car is? (1)

bhtooefr (649901) | about 3 years ago | (#36671038)

See, what they're doing instead is getting the FAA and DOT to compromise.

Of course, another way to go would be to not make a flying [b]car[/b], but rather a flying motorcycle of sorts - three wheels, and there's a hell of a lot less DOT regulations to deal with. And then, rather than go for a light sport aircraft, go for a normal airplane - that restricts who can fly it to a smaller set, but makes for a far, far better combination vehicle.

Re:Want to know where your flying car is? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36671230)

Isn't a gyrocopter effectively a flying motorcycle?

Shoes... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36670752)

This will never work.

No-one will submit to being groped by the TSA and have to take their shoes off before getting in their car to go to work each morning.

Re:Shoes... (1)

wjsteele (255130) | about 3 years ago | (#36671250)

Since when does a General Aviation pilot get searched?

Bill

Re:Shoes... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36671280)

Well at the very least it will kill car pooling.

Re:Shoes... (1)

ballpoint (192660) | about 3 years ago | (#36671560)

That sometimes happens when you takeoff from a larger airport. You walk to your aircraft in the hangar and drop off your stuff, and then you must go to and pass security (not collecting $200) to get back to your aircraft. Bizarre.

Irrelevant (1)

yt8znu35 (1202731) | about 3 years ago | (#36670866)

The average driver will never see this on the road. It's a rich person's toy.

Re:Irrelevant (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36671180)

Just like the horse-less carriage!

Worst of both worlds (1)

vijayiyer (728590) | about 3 years ago | (#36670882)

I like driving cars and flying airplanes. I don't want this vehicle...it's definitely not going to drive as well of a good car, doesn't have the useful load of even a Cessna 172, and leaves me asking, "what problem does this really solve?" it's not like you're going to be able to take off from freeways. So you drive to the airport, and take off there. Just like you do today...

This idea is probably DOA.. (2, Insightful)

whizbang77045 (1342005) | about 3 years ago | (#36670906)

"Flying cars" or "roadable aircraft" have been designed and built many times in the past. There's always a lot of enthusiasm during the design phase, when public demonstrations are made, and colorful brochures are handed out. When it comes to actually buying one, though, the public, both flying and non-flying, always stay away in droves. I'd be very surprised if this one is any different.

As others have pointed out, there are a lot of problems, both regulatory and practical, that make this a costly and difficult ventures. Save your money; buy something really practical, like a flying saucer that works only in ground effect.

007 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36670948)

The only thing good about this is that it will allow for some great James Bond scenes in the future.

Other than that- the military might use them- but for the hoi polloi- this is out of our reach. Even if costs become acceptable- the logisitcs involved with having thousands of these in the air (even with pilots licenses) would be a nightmare- computers would need to be involved to make sure these don't crash.

Then there is terrorism and no-fly zones. You have a dozen airplanes near the capitol- you can make sure none get too close to a landmark. Send up the fighters as a deterrent if they cross the line?

You have a thousand- do you send up the air-force every time one gets too close to the no-fly zone. Do we shoot down every drunk redneck with a pilots license who decides he wants to see the pentagon from above to see if it really has "six" sides.

You can prevent cars going places by barriers.

Will every state capitol building need to be encased in a large bullet-proof glass box?

Links (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36670962)

You couldn't put one fucking direct link to a picture of the vehicle, could you?

Re:Links (1)

whizbang77045 (1342005) | about 3 years ago | (#36671724)

Probably the best known was this:

http://www.airventuremuseum.org/collection/aircraft/Taylor%20Aerocar.asp [airventuremuseum.org]

There was one built in Greenville, Texas around 1950. I think the name of the company was Southern Aero Services. The reason I'm familiar with it is that one of my workmates worked on it, and the company I retired from later took over the facility.

Those are the two that come to mind immediately, but I know there have been others. If you want the names of some of those as well, email me privately, and I'll dig around over the next week or so.

Behind The Times (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36670990)

Didn't M.A.S.K. already have one of these like 25 years ago?

safety when the zombies come (2)

Blymie (231220) | about 3 years ago | (#36671026)

I bet there is another angle for this too.

An aircraft that a semi-well off person can keep, in the same line as a bomb shelter.

Tons of survival nuts would love to have a vehicle that, during a disaster of any sort, only needs a long enough stretch of space nearby to get them airborne. If WWIII, zombies, aliens, or whatever might scare the paranoid is coming, few people are going to care whether they take off from a well mowed lawn, or a straight stretch of nearby road. Regulations be damned, they'll be airborne.

Many of these events don't leave enough time for someone to even get to an airport. However, a plane in your garage?

Re:safety when the zombies come (1)

chemicaldave (1776600) | about 3 years ago | (#36671380)

Tons of survival nuts would love to have a vehicle that, during a disaster of any sort, only needs a long enough stretch of space nearby to get them airborne.

Good luck refueling when you land.

Re:safety when the zombies come (2)

Lumpy (12016) | about 3 years ago | (#36671476)

Most survival nuts will be dead in 90 to 120 days. I have not met ONE survival nut that has any clue at all about survival beyond a 90 day window. None have any clue about farming, animal husbandry, animal processing, engineering, building, Finding water or digging a well, hell only 2 I have talked to out of the 200 I chatted with about a research project even had a clue how to build a outhouse correctly.

99% of all "survivalists" are just complete ravenous idiots looking for an excuse to have more guns and a big pickup truck that looks like mad max would own it.

Plus they are so stupid they buy their MRE's yet there are plenty of foodstuffs you can package right at home that can have a 10+ year shelf life if done right. Technology from the pioneer days for food and grain preservation... whole oats in todays' vac sealed bags and then put into a 5 gallon pail flooded with nitrogen (easy to get as most idiots buy into the nitrogen in tires gag) will last in a cool corner of the basement for well over 20 years for just ONE example.

Most Survivalists are simply redneck enthusiasts. there are only a handful of REAL survivalists out there, and those guys don't have a bug out cabin... they have a bug out farm, already planted with fruit trees and other edibles already mature and producing fruit. (3-7 years for a fruit tree to grow from planting to producing, you need them planted and producing NOW) as well as a good large root cellar and other important things. Smartest guys have chickens already on the property and are practicing the art of animal processing and care. Let alone how to grow hedgerows to hide your farm and act as a natural defense border. Or things like ammunition reloading or even bullet forming.

Nope, it's more fun to polish your AR-50 in the garage and talk BS to your buddies than it is to run a working far every weekend for you to escape to and actually have a chance of survival.... THAT is what the American survivalist is.

Yes I did a 3 year research project for a gaming company about survivalists, read everything out there, talked to a lot of them one on one about their "plan" and what skills they think are the most important. the biggest thing that stood out, most have not planned past 30 days let alone 120-360 days. only the rare one has planned for 5+ years. What really get's me is many actually think they will find gasoline for a long time afterwards easily for their 5mpg truck. and most don't have reloading supplies even accounted for, they also think the ammo they have is enough for the rest of their lives.

Not a problem (1)

jamesl (106902) | about 3 years ago | (#36671030)

By the time three years are up, Terrafugia will be out of money and out of business. But this still raises interesting questions ...

In the unlikely event that Terrafugia doesn't go out of business, will aircraft/vehicles manufactured and sold without safety equipment be retrofitted? At whose expense?

If Terrafugia goes out of business after delivering airplanes without safety equipment will the owners be prohibited from driving them?

Terrafugia was granted a waiver (by the FAA) to the maximum gross weight regulation to allow for required road safety equipment such as air bags. Developing an economically viable roadable airplane or flying car is a hard. Doing it in today's highly regulated environment is really hard.

Oh boy... (1)

PopeRatzo (965947) | about 3 years ago | (#36671042)

This is great news. Once we get the flying cars, the next step is...jet packs!

I've been waiting since 1967.

Airworthiness after a ding? (3, Interesting)

OzPeter (195038) | about 3 years ago | (#36671222)

If the Terrafugia gets off the ground, what happens when you get in a minor fender-bender on the road? Will the FAA have to send an inspector to validate the airworthiness of the plane? Or will you get pilots saying - "yeah it looks OK to fly".

Re:Airworthiness after a ding? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36671796)

Not even a fender bender. Just a hard hit on a pothole or similar (or many of them over time) could affect the plane.

The idea is interesting but it's just not practical with conventional aircraft designs. It would need antigravity or some other form of "safe" lift to be practical. Airplanes are too fragile to be beating around on the streets.

Re:Airworthiness after a ding? (2)

Deadstick (535032) | about 3 years ago | (#36671934)

No FAA inspection will be needed: after a fender-bender; this thing will not be airworthy, period. ANY ground impact will damage one or more aerodynamic surfaces. You don't call the FAA: you pay an FAA-licensed aircraft mechanic to fix it, and then you pay an FAA-licensed airframe inspector to certify the repair. You might want to look up the hourly rates those people charge...

rj

Re:Airworthiness after a ding? (1)

DanDD (1857066) | about 3 years ago | (#36672524)

A&P's (Airframe & Powerplant mechanic) don't usually charge any more for their time than an auto shop. In fact, unless at a very large, busy airport, A&P's are usually _cheaper_ than a decent auto shop.

As for an IA (Inspector), most of the professional aviation mechanic types at small airports that I meet are also inspectors.

Owning and operating a small airplane really isn't that expensive. Getting the training & staying current adds up a bit. Flying for 15 or 20 hours per year isn't enough to operate an aircraft safely in a variety of conditions. If one never leaves the environs of a small airport I suppose 20 hours a year of flying would be a bare minimum.

Honestly tho, my rough estimate is that roughly only 25% of the people I meet are mentally capable of piloting an aircraft or assessing risks & making decisions in a safe manner.

Vaporware (1)

damn_registrars (1103043) | about 3 years ago | (#36671302)

We won't see this product get to market. Or at the very least, 99.999% of all Americans will never experience this product in person in the extremely unlikely event that it does somehow make it to market.

It's nice to see someone working on the old flying car problem again, but we're just not going to see it happen.

easier way around the DOT laws... (1)

Lumpy (12016) | about 3 years ago | (#36671354)

Make it 3 wheeled and it's a motorcycle and does not have to obey ANY DOT automobile laws.

won't be available to the masses for years (1)

Chrisq (894406) | about 3 years ago | (#36671602)

Flying cars won't be available to the masses for years, not until they are 100% automatic. Just wait until the first Muslim gets in one and crashes into some capitol building!

Re:won't be available to the masses for years (1)

YrWrstNtmr (564987) | about 3 years ago | (#36671728)

Just wait until the first Muslim gets in one and crashes into some capitol building!

You mean like how they could rent or buy a Cessna today, and do the same thing?

Re:won't be available to the masses for years (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36671880)

Muslim women can't drive. Problem solved.

AC, because my wife reads /.

Motorcycle tires have different characteristics (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#36671620)

Motorcycle tires are made to have tread along their edges to allow for better cornering grip. Also, motorcycle tires are generally taller than most car tires. These things together make motorcycle tires generally more expensive than car tires. I think their argument is false, they can likely find car tires narrow or small enough if they look in the right places.

Flying Car 2 (1)

lonechicken (1046406) | about 3 years ago | (#36671710)

"Flying Car 2! Now with wings."

The PRACTICAL goal of a flying car! (1)

Lashat (1041424) | about 3 years ago | (#36672184)

I imagine that the real practical application of eliminating gridlock and commute time that we all want to see is this scenario.
1. Roll out of my garage onto my street/airstrip.
2. Get flight clearance and take off. (In the same amount of time it takes me to buckle up and select this morning's soundtrack.)
3. Fly to my work's airstrip and park.
4. Depending on the technology state
            - Plug in to charge up the batteries
            - Fold up plane into my briefcase like GeoJet. (my preference is BOTH in reverse order)

Potholes and motorcycle wheels (1)

vinn01 (178295) | about 3 years ago | (#36672384)

The use of motorcycle wheels reminds me of the pothole problem when riding a motorcycle. It's not pretty. I'm certain that this "roadable" car has almost no suspension, little maneuverability, and poor road visibility. That's makes it worse than a motorcycle when hitting a pothole. There is no way to make a public road as smooth as the surfaces of an airport.

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