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New Flying Car Design Unveiled

samzenpus posted about a year ago | from the better-late-than-never dept.

Transportation 233

An anonymous reader writes "Terrafugia has unveiled plans to build a semi-autonomous, hybrid-electric, vertical-takeoff-and-landing vehicle for personal aviation. The new design, called TF-X, is in the works even as the company's first product, Transition, is still awaiting production because of technical and regulatory hurdles. Terrafugia's founder says the goal of TF-X, if it can get past the safety issues in both aviation and automotive industries, is to 'open up personal aviation to all of humanity.' But it will have a lot of competition from companies including AgustaWestland, Pipistrel, and the stealthy Zee.Aero, all of which are working on vertical-takeoff-and-landing vehicles for consumers."

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233 comments

Yeah. Now (5, Funny)

MouseTheLuckyDog (2752443) | about a year ago | (#43645371)

When I'm getting too old to safely drive one.

Re:Yeah. Now (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43646347)

When I'm getting too old to safely drive one.

Nope, not even then. Once again, this is not a "flying car" it's a "road-able aircraft".

When we sci-fi geeks say "flying car" it has some design requirements. Namely, no wings, no props.

Are they safe? (4, Insightful)

taleman (147513) | about a year ago | (#43645381)

What happens when flying cars collide with buildings or other infrastructure?

Re:Are they safe? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43645409)

I would assume terrible mayhem and fatalities the likes of which haven't been seen for about 12 years.

Re:Are they safe? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43645411)

Well duh.... you die!

Re:Are they safe? (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43645453)

The DMV tests will ensure that all drivers are properly qualified to be in the sky.

Re:Are they safe? (1)

SternisheFan (2529412) | about a year ago | (#43646171)

The DMV tests will ensure that all drivers are properly qualified to be in the sky.

Okay, now you've just scared me to death. The thought of flying cars in the hands of the average motorist (shudder!)

Re:Are they safe? (3, Insightful)

Baloroth (2370816) | about a year ago | (#43645535)

The same thing that happens when any other small plane collides with buildings or other infrastructure... which is why actually flying something like this will require a pilot's license.

Re:Are they safe? (1)

Twinbee (767046) | about a year ago | (#43645851)

Alternatively, we could create a repelling force inversely proportional to the square or cube of the distance. I understand it probably won't have instant thrust in all directions, but a future flying car could, and it would be a lot more fun than the computer driving it.

Re:Are they safe? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43645539)

Same as with most planes.

Anyway, regulation as is will probably force you to only use designated areodromes as takeoff and landing places unless specific permits are to be had per landing spot per landing.

So, its a plane you can drive home from the airport after you are done with it. It better excels in one of either or they may be having a hard time selling it. Although their preorder seems to fill up nicely.

Re:Are they safe? (0)

flayzernax (1060680) | about a year ago | (#43645549)

You loose your right to post on /.

Re: Are they safe? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43645611)

Don't you mean 'lose'?

Re: Are they safe? (4, Insightful)

icebike (68054) | about a year ago | (#43645839)

No, this is slashdot, so any close approximation of spelling is as good as any other.

Re:Are they safe? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43645631)

inability to spell should also cause you to lose your post rights on /.

Re:Are they safe? (0)

flayzernax (1060680) | about a year ago | (#43645677)

/\/\4'/B3 L0L. 0R /\/\4'/B3 175 4 5UP3R (0D3 /\/\34|\|7 Ph0R 5UP3R 53(R37 3'/35 0|\|L'/.

Sorry, and please feel free to mod me down for being an asshat, I'm actually kind of tired of having a +1 karma bonus. It takes the challenge out of posting my rants.

Re:Are they safe? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43645747)

You know there's a "No Karma Bonus" checkbox on the comment form, right?

Re:Are they safe? (1, Informative)

flayzernax (1060680) | about a year ago | (#43645803)

Yes. But then some times I have to wait 30 seconds to (or is it too) a minute to click submit. I suppose I could use that time to check my grammar, syntax, spelling etc..

You know I actually do bother to look up the proper way to write. But its extremely hard for me for some reason. Not claiming any kind of special status here just trying to be informative.

In this case "loose" slipped right under the radar. I genuinely thought I had used the correct word.

Re:Are they safe? (3, Funny)

ScentCone (795499) | about a year ago | (#43645657)

You loose your right to post on /.

Is there a way that can be tightened back up?

Re:Are they safe? (1)

flayzernax (1060680) | about a year ago | (#43645711)

haha, I know the humor is at my expense but its just to damn funny not to comment on it =)

Re:Are they safe? (1)

sconeu (64226) | about a year ago | (#43645909)

Why would you want to damn funny? Being funny is a good thing.

Grammar --

The difference between knowing your shit and knowing you're shit.

Re:Are they safe? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43646141)

"Damn" is also used colloquially as an emphatic exclamation; e.g. "Damn, he/she is fine" or perhaps "Damn, he has a nice car!" -Wikipedia

Perhaps my usage of it should have been. "Damn, its too funny not to comment on it".

-flay

Re:Are they safe? (2)

CastrTroy (595695) | about a year ago | (#43645653)

More importantly, what happens when they have a mechanical problem? Looking at the way most people take care of their automobiles, I fear the day that people start owning flying cars. People will try to drive around in the winter with only a square foot of frost removed from their windshield and 4 square inches removed from the side window so they can see the driver's side mirror. I hate to think that anybody would be bothered with a pre-flight checklist [csinvesting.org]. When a car on the road has a mechanical problem, it usually results in the guy having to pull off the road. When an aircraft has a mechanical problem it can be devastating to the drivers, passengers, and anybody in the vicinity of the aircraft.

Re:Are they safe? (2)

Cinder6 (894572) | about a year ago | (#43646311)

It would be pretty simple to have the car simply refuse to fly if it didn't pass some sort of internal systems check. What I'm more worried about is the fact that most people would make terrible, terrible flyers. People have enough trouble with just two dimensions...

Re:Are they safe? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43645805)

We'll declare war on Iraq

Re:Are they safe? (1)

icebike (68054) | about a year ago | (#43645819)

What happens when flying cars collide with buildings or other infrastructure?

You needn't worry about this because flying cars are never going to be generally available for Ma and Pa Polyester.
When every minor fender bender turns into a death rain of falling parts you can bet that society will come to its senses.
Just won't happen.

Re:Are they safe? (1)

SternisheFan (2529412) | about a year ago | (#43646315)

What happens when flying cars collide with buildings or other infrastructure?

You needn't worry about this because flying cars are never going to be generally available for Ma and Pa Polyester. When every minor fender bender turns into a death rain of falling parts you can bet that society will come to its senses. Just won't happen.

I'm rich, and I can always get what I want. And I want one of dem dere flying things. (Do you see the problem?)

Re:Are they safe? (4, Funny)

Jason Levine (196982) | about a year ago | (#43645893)

What happens when flying cars collide with buildings or other infrastructure?

Getting into your car will require a TSA scanning.

Never going to happen (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43645401)

Sure, they can build a flying car, but it will never become mainstream. It doesn't matter how safe you can make them, the drivers are still going to be idiots. Think about all the morons you see causing or nearly causing accidents every day. Now imagine those same idiots trying to deal with three dimensions. "All of humanity" are too stupid to drive a flying car.

Re:Never going to happen (1)

jellomizer (103300) | about a year ago | (#43645591)

I can see flying cars going along side with the self driving car. For a computer control flight it could actually be a lot easier. Just because of less obstacles. With normal cars we drive on narrow roads that makes sure we are close to each other that causes a lot of accented spreading the roads by allowed flight paths in thousand foot increments squared can reduce traffic greatly. With automated system we can assure safer flights.

Re:Never going to happen (1)

gstoddart (321705) | about a year ago | (#43645785)

So, instead of just the technical hurdle of a flying car, we need to design and build the entire infrastructure for this, along with developing the flight control software, routing, and everything else which comes with it.

This would be such a massive expenditure that it would never happen.

I just don't see this vast and expensive infrastructure coming into existence on its own -- so I'm forced to conclude your Jetson's vision of the future will stay in the realm of things which are cool, hypothetically possible, but so damned impratical to achieve as to make this purely a pipe dream.

Re:Never going to happen (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43645873)

The software already exists. Planes are virtually autonomous already. Routing is GPS routing, probably easier than existing turn-by-turn navigation. The car portion of the software is under active development. The fact that we've had autopiloted planes for decades and are only now developing a true autopilot for cars (not just cruise control) demonstrates how much harder ground navigation is than air navigation.

No, the problem with flying cars is not making them autonomous. The problem is energy - it takes a lot of energy to fight gravity. Rolling on wheels will always be cheaper.

Re:Never going to happen (1)

icebike (68054) | about a year ago | (#43646017)

I can see flying cars going along side with the self driving car. For a computer control flight it could actually be a lot easier. Just because of less obstacles.

You mean besides all of those other flying cars...

Computer controlled (self driving) cars are easy by comparison. They deal with only X and Y. They can pull over and stop for any minor malfunction.

Re:Never going to happen (1)

mmcxii (1707574) | about a year ago | (#43645635)

If you haven't noticed, there is a small but serious trend to remove the "idiot" from behind the wheel. I'm sure this won't be on the lots of your local dealer in 2020 or anything but make no mistake, human error is an element the industry is working to minimize to the point of removing the human.

Re:Never going to happen (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43645847)

Does that mean in the future I can just send my flying car to work with me, stay home and watch Robot Oprah?

Re:Never going to happen (1)

spitzak (4019) | about a year ago | (#43646087)

I've always heard that the part most likely to fail in a modern car is the nut that holds the steering wheel.

Re:Never going to happen (1)

ttucker (2884057) | about a year ago | (#43645667)

Sure, they can build a flying car, but it will never become mainstream. It doesn't matter how safe you can make them, the drivers are still going to be idiots. Think about all the morons you see causing or nearly causing accidents every day. Now imagine those same idiots trying to deal with three dimensions. "All of humanity" are too stupid to drive a flying car.

I think that two dimensions of movement is already too confusing for many drivers, so god knows they don't need three! I can think of some drivers that would be better off with one, kinda like a car on rails, or train car.

Re:Never going to happen (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43646067)

And yet most people can throw and catch a ball - which involves complex 3 dimensional movement, but are not very good at playing pool - which only involves 'simple' 2 dimensional movement.

Re:Never going to happen (1)

s1d3track3D (1504503) | about a year ago | (#43645719)

I'm waiting for the time of the sensible people

The year they take office
all government position will be non-paid, volunteer only positions
lobbying will be obsolete, elections will be held entirely online
actually, better yet, government will be run by the 'Logic 3000' super computer, which will calculate all possible outcomes/scenarios/decisions and make the "best choices" for humankind,
drugs will be legalized, firearms will become illegal,
self driving flying cars will be legal and replacing most land vehicles.

I'm sure the neighborhood will love the noise... (2)

cruff (171569) | about a year ago | (#43645447)

when I fire up the gas turbine after using the undoubtedly noisy props to do a vertical take off. I'm sure I'd hate the noise too.

Wings are laughably small (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43645463)

And therefore they cannot provide enough lift for it to FLY.

I would have thought that was obvious just by looking at it.

Re:Wings are laughably small (1)

jeffclay (1077679) | about a year ago | (#43645543)

well obviously you're wrong. did you see the pictures of the thing in flight?

Re:Wings are laughably small (1)

jeffclay (1077679) | about a year ago | (#43645559)

and i just noticed that I replied to an Anonymous Coward... the following comments will be deserved.

i'm just going to duck in the corner for a bit.

For those who already can't handle 2D navigation.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43645469)

now we can have them navigate an additional dimension and f*ck up even more!

Re:For those who already can't handle 2D navigatio (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43646119)

But can catch a ball (3d), and yet not be able to pocket a ball in pool (2d). Huh, almost like the *removing* a dimension that we experience every day naturally is what is actually screwing with people.

Expect slashdot to cover this vaporware (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43645495)

Expect slashdot to cover this vaporware ad nauseum.

Yet Another Road Hazard (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43645513)

Now in addition to incompetent drivers, you will have to dodge the falling debris created by incompetent "personal aviators"...

Re:Yet Another Road Hazard (1)

HornWumpus (783565) | about a year ago | (#43645633)

Opportunity.

100 years after the flying car becomes generally available people will display their wealth with incredibly strong roofs, possibly with active defenses.

Re:Yet Another Road Hazard (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43646159)

Except we will undoubtedly restrict flying to 'virtual roads' that don't significantly overlap normal roads, highrise building, or other significant hazards.

Enough with the "Fake" Flying Cars Already (2, Insightful)

CohibaVancouver (864662) | about a year ago | (#43645541)

Enough with the "Fake" Flying Cars Already - I think everyone is getting tired of these 'flying car' stories, be they on /., Wired, PopSci or wherever.

A Flying Car uses some kind of anti-gravity device. It can float. Don't show me a hovercraft, helicopter or fixed-wing aircraft.

For greater clarity but so as not to limit the generality of the foregoing, see:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lhF4gu87rn0 [youtube.com]

Re:Enough with the "Fake" Flying Cars Already (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43645567)

I like to think of them as "Driving Planes"

Roadworthy aircraft.

Re:Enough with the "Fake" Flying Cars Already (2)

Robotbeat (461248) | about a year ago | (#43645817)

Enough with the "Fake" Flying Cars Already - I think everyone is getting tired of these 'flying car' stories, be they on /., Wired, PopSci or wherever.

A Flying Car uses some kind of anti-gravity device. It can float. Don't show me a hovercraft, helicopter or fixed-wing aircraft....

So determined are you to avoid acknowledging that, yeah, this fits pretty darned well the idea of a "flying car" that you'll move the goalposts so now it's only called "flying" if it uses something that currently is physically impossible? So, birds don't really fly either, then?

Nonsense.

A VTVL flying car as pictured is definitely a "real" flying car (i.e. we expected the future to look like). There is no misnomer in calling the concept a flying car. It's not an anti-gravity car, but that's why it's not called an "antigravity car."

And this is not terribly surprising that you'd respond that way... Closer and closer to the future we get, the more we'll redefine what REALLY is futuristic, so much so that even once we've "arrived," it won't feel like we have, so we'll move the goalposts further...

Re:Enough with the "Fake" Flying Cars Already (1)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about a year ago | (#43646343)

So determined are you to avoid acknowledging that, yeah, this fits pretty darned well the idea of a "flying car" that you'll move the goalposts so now it's only called "flying" if it uses something that currently is physically impossible? So, birds don't really fly either, then?

I guess that the designation "car" refers to the major design features. If it has large wings and a long tail with a rudder, an elevator, and a propeller attached to what coincidentally looks like a car body, it it still a car? According to your logic, a frog with wings would make a bird. (Bats aren't birds either, for that matter.)

Re:Enough with the "Fake" Flying Cars Already (1)

gstoddart (321705) | about a year ago | (#43646011)

Do flying planes use some form of anti-gravity? Can they float in the air?

You're re-defining 'fly' to a very narrow (and entirely fictional) purpose.

Sure, the Jetsons had the whole hovering thing, but the flying car we've been hearing about for decades has often been the car/plan hybrid.

We don't have any physics which leads us to this anti-gravity you seem to think is a precondition, so I have no idea on what basis you feel a flying car needs to have that.

Anti-gravity is not possible... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43646101)

The principle (logic) of conservation of energy makes actual 'anti-gravity', as portrayed in science fiction and UFO media, impossible.
While it is certainly possible to balance one force against another, for example in gravity balanced against magnetism (or the electric field), or the forced created in a 'f=ma' action pointing in the opposing direction, it is NOT possible to oppose a force field (in this case the natual gravity well) with no energy whatsoever.
The question is, what is the 'cost' always associated with opposing a gravity well, to remain at a stable position, or to raise an object to the next lesser gravity potential? The cost is exactly equal to 'f=ma'. This creates a problem. To create a 'device' that opposes gravity freely, would allow the creation of a practically infinite amount of energy, using normal matter in a looping manner. Such a device, even if it created an artificial 'bubble' of space-time, would still allow inifinite energy.
Essentially, the same bad logic that allows us to assume 'anti-gravity' could exists, also drives people nuts that work on pupetual motion, and reactionless drives.
In the end, all such violations of 'force' (f=ma) are in vain.

Let'sa go! (1, Troll)

wcrowe (94389) | about a year ago | (#43645579)

Look, I am part Italian, and I don't wish to insult my Mediterranean paisani, but, if I ever do own a flying car it will NOT be of Italian manufacture.., sorry.

People can't navigate in 2D (3, Insightful)

gstoddart (321705) | about a year ago | (#43645599)

Most drivers don't seem to be able to handle safely navigating on surface roads.

I'm pretty sure the vast majority have no hope in hell of operating a flying car when they have up and down available to them.

And I can't see the FAA wanting to suddenly let a bunch of people start taking to the skies in something like this without a proper pilots license.

Re:People can't navigate in 2D (2)

Robotbeat (461248) | about a year ago | (#43645729)

Forgot to RTFA, I see. The vehicles would be self-driving.

Re:People can't navigate in 2D (1)

gstoddart (321705) | about a year ago | (#43645813)

No, I didn't forget to read it ... I just don't believe we're going to be able to build the infrastructure to have millions of autonomous flying vehicles soaring around the world.

My opinion of what you and TFA describe is something which is a cool intellectual exercise, but so damned far from something which can be made into reality as to be a waste of time.

We can't solve basic problems like feeding people and not trying to kill each other constantly. Millions of autonomous flying cars? That's such a pie-eyed fantasy as to be laughable.

Re:People can't navigate in 2D (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43645801)

You are so wrong, this will be solved by being really high off the ground and being able to see everything below from a "god's view" perspective.

And if that fails we'll bring in gorillas to eat the pilots.

How much ANFO will this carry? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43645609)

And will they sell to people that wear turbines on their heads? I could see this becoming a preferred method for a muslim kamakazi mission a la World War II. And their just crazy enough to do it, too. The purchaser list should be carefully screened and vetted.

Re:How much ANFO will this carry? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43646265)

"Re:How much ANFO will this carry?" and "And will they sell to people that wear turbines (sic) on their heads?"

There will be delight when this poster loses many teeth to a sudden collision with a 500g classic single-edged white iron bangle.

A solution to a problem that doesn't exist (2)

whizbang77045 (1342005) | about a year ago | (#43645629)

I've lost count of the number of "flying car" projects I've seen over the years. Several have been built, and flew fine, but none have ever been a commercial success. It's a solution to a problem that doesn't appear to exist.

Re:A solution to a problem that doesn't exist (4, Insightful)

Hentes (2461350) | about a year ago | (#43645749)

The problem does exist. Traffic jams are real, and flying in a straight line could save a lot of fuel. There is plenty of demand for flying cars, the problems have always been legislatory.

There are 2 paths. (4, Interesting)

briancox2 (2417470) | about a year ago | (#43645637)

Either flying cars will always require a traditional pilot's license. Or we will first need to master the art of self-driving cars and remove almost any possibility that a passenger or owner of a vehicle can control the fine traveling decisions of the craft; i.e. only decide the desitnation.

I actually prefer the latter.

Re:There are 2 paths. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43645963)

Not true. Ultralight aircraft do not require a pilot's license to use. If these flying cars are light enough, you wouldn't need a pilot's license. But, are they?? that's what I don't know.
And, if they can completely fly themselves (ultralight or not) then, hell, you wouldn't need any kind of license and you could have a fridge inside your flying car with beer! I'd be drinking the whole way with my friends :) Damn, why are these commonplace right now!

Re:There are 2 paths. (1)

briancox2 (2417470) | about a year ago | (#43646107)

Wouldn't you suspect that, on the day when half of the "car" driving done in the country is done in the air, that any law which does not require extensive training for the pilot would be overturned?

Life Limited Parts (1)

Lokni (531043) | about a year ago | (#43645639)

Part of the safety of aviation is that certain parts have a known lifetime and there are programs in place to make sure that those parts are replaced before they become a problem. Planes are not like cars. The stresses of take offs and landings are way more significant than that of just driving a car around on the road. Are people ready for the cost of servicing their cars not every X number of miles but every X number of hours? And im not talking oil change here, Im talking about service on the level of removing body panels and checking for cracks in the frame. If something breaks on the road you can coast over to the shoulder. If something breaks while you are flying, you literally drop out of the sky which is a one way trip to a great ball of fire.

Re:Life Limited Parts (1)

Robotbeat (461248) | about a year ago | (#43645725)

So, more of a Japanese-style of only allowing tip-top vehicles. Works for them, it could work for us (for flying cars). Also, Terrafugia comes with a full-plane parachute, so you wouldn't "literally drop out of the sky."

Re:Life Limited Parts (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43645915)

If something breaks while you are flying, you literally drop out of the sky

No. Failures happen every day all the time in the air. There is usually (like 99% of the time) enough control remaining to land safely. Aircraft engineering is not magic; things break, but aircraft have enough margin built-in to cope with most failures, when they're operated within regulations.

As for the maintenance regime; if flying cars were widespread then a large base of maintenance facilities and a cohort of maintenance people would have to exist to service maintenance contracts, probably built-in to the cost of the vehicles. Could this be scaled enough to become affordable? Perhaps. Certainly the traditional methods used for contemporary aircraft would have to become a lot more efficient, but I suspect that is very possible.

Reality of this... (2)

bradgoodman (964302) | about a year ago | (#43645659)

If this even comes to light (which I doubt it will) - the way these things go is as follows, based off recent history and similar products. It will not be a "flying car", but rather a "roadable helicopter". This means it will require a helicopter pilot's license. This won't be something you buy at you local dealership, get your license at a local DMV, and you and all your neighbors will be commuting to work in your flying cars. They will probably take-off and land at places helicopters are now permitted (airports), and serve as an alternative means of transport and storage before/after doing so.

Safe investment (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43645673)

Nothing like a $279,000 flying car that can be taken out on the street by a kid in a $300 Duster.

Possibility for new commuter communities... (1)

SuperKendall (25149) | about a year ago | (#43645707)

The great thing about technology like this is it opens up the possibility for more remote commuter communities that do not rely on a large network of roads to connect to major work centers, and can be farther away as these craft can travel much faster than land vehicles.

There are already some housing developments today with small airfields where people live with planes. But a smaller craft that can take off vertically means you just need something like a "launch park", parks are things that communities would have anyway... and these being mare advanced could require substantially less skill to fly than a normal plane, it could in fact easily take you where you between take-off and landing zones without any pilot input (thanks as the article says to regulations requiring all aircraft to broadcast position).

It's pretty expensive so it would be out of reach for a lot of people, but if the concept works well it cold come down to $100k - and if you could live someplace where housing was far cheaper than near a major city it could easily make it a viable proposition for many people.

2D is hard enough for some, 3D will be a disaster (5, Insightful)

kannibal_klown (531544) | about a year ago | (#43645761)

Face it, most people have a hard enough time on a (relatively) 2 dimensional plane. Accidents all over the place. Now you have to worry about people coming from all 3 dimensions... forget about it.

Add to that, at least it is normally hard for someone to go through the side of a house unless the accident is really bad or they were driving really fast. Now anyone would be EASILY able to go through a roof.

Re:2D is hard enough for some, 3D will be a disast (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43645877)

Yep! That'll drive insurance premiums thru the roof!!

Re:2D is hard enough for some, 3D will be a disast (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43646217)

You didn't even mention what happens when a large percentage of the people in these flying cars are trying to text at the same time.

Manual flight please? (1)

Twinbee (767046) | about a year ago | (#43645767)

Before anyone comments, I would absolutely love to fly one of these manually (instead of through computer automation), and the way we can address the safety issue is to have a repelling motion with any other flying vehicles (or indeed the ground or buildings). The force would inversely proportional to the square or cube of the distance, and it means we can fly around having fun and not worry about crashing into anything.

Just thought I'd put it out there, as I bet someone is itching to say an 'average Joe' won't be able to fly these things (which would be true otherwise).

At least it's turbine powered (1)

Animats (122034) | about a year ago | (#43645769)

At least this thing is jet turbine powered. Turbine-powered VTOL craft have been working since the 1950s. With enough power to weight, it can get off the ground even if the shape isn't very good aerodynamically.

The problem with aircraft jet turbine engines is cost. They can be made small, but below bizjet size, making them smaller doesn't bring the cost down much. That's why general aviation still runs on pistons. Many engine makers, most notably Williams International [williams-int.com], have tried to crack the turbojet cost problem. So far, there are no jet aircraft below $1 million, and few below $2 million. There was much hope for "very light jets" a decade ago, but it didn't happen.

In other news, farmers markets to equip... (1)

kannibal_klown (531544) | about a year ago | (#43645791)

In other news, farmers markets will need to start equipping anti air guns and flak cannons.

If you though there were a lot of elderly driving into these things before, just wait until they could decided to land in the middle of them.

Skycar? (2)

tekrat (242117) | about a year ago | (#43645795)

And meantime, 50 years later, Moller is exactly NOWHERE.
The dude's concepts have been on the cover of Popular Mechanics since... what... 1972? And he has yet to even sell one flying car.

It's about time (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43645809)

Do these flying cars sound like this when they go by: "(imaging your lips flapping rapidly when doing this) BIBIBIBIbibibibewwwww... Meet George Jetson... His boy Elroy...."

Awesome news!

You want the drunk neighbor down the block to fly? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43645829)

Every 9 years a new flying car is invented only to discover that there is no market for them. In fact, most people in the world would fight to prevent them. We all know that cars fail and pull to the side of the road. When flying cars fail they fall on a house killing all inside, just like any other type of airplane. A flying car is a car that is flimsy, since it must be light, so it's a death-trap in a street accident, but it is heavy enough to come through the roof and explode. Anybody interested in this absurd technology should be committed IMHO.

Call it a green vehicle (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43645833)

Get grants and loan guarantees from government.
Blow the money on phat salaries.
Declare bankruptcy
Success!

Let's take these bullshit dreams of yesteryear... (1)

Rude Turnip (49495) | about a year ago | (#43645921)

...and shoot them behind the shed. The flying car was dreamed up in a far different world where energy independence was not an immediate matter of national security and suburbs still seemed like a good idea.

Re:Let's take these bullshit dreams of yesteryear. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43646207)

+1.

This is the kind of dream that a child has before they grow up and realize it doesn't make any sense, doesn't solve any actual problem, and would be a disaster on pretty well every level (of course, given that even cars are marketed toward fantasies, it isn't all that surprising that we keep seeing this).

Bahhhd idea (1)

pubwvj (1045960) | about a year ago | (#43646241)

Flying cars are a really bad idea. As shown by the accident reports the vast majority of people can not handle driving in two dimensions. Add another dimension and the accident rate will skyrocket. Even with autopilots they will be dangerous. Add altitude and speed and the death rate will climb even more dramatically. Perhaps we should consider this evolution at work. Call the car "Darwin".

maintainance (2)

v.dog (1093949) | about a year ago | (#43646355)

It's one thing to get a driver/pilot to fly one of these well, it's another to get them to keep them in an air-worthy condition. Having worked at a service station and seen how people treat their cars, the thought of them flying overhead scares me. Flying cars do have a place; but it's with those who can afford the infrastructure to keep both them and the pilots in top condition- the military, emergency response, and professional car services.

A marketing ploy for their current offering? (1)

Michael_gr (1066324) | about a year ago | (#43646403)

If you visit the Terrafugia website, there are more details of the craft. To my untrained eye (aerospace buff, but not an engineer), it doesn't look feasible - not enough wing surface. Anyway, they are saying that when they begin accepting pre-orders, they will give precedence to owners of their current roadable aircraft, the Terrafugia Transition. So it might be legit or it might be vaporware concocted to help their sales department.
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