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Terrafugia Wants Their Flying Car To Be Autonomous

Soulskill posted about 9 months ago | from the car-industry-meets-drone-industry dept.

Transportation 94

Lucas123 writes "Terrafugia, a company that has been working on flying car prototypes for years, said it is now leaning toward an autonomous vehicle for safety reasons. Carl Dietrich, co-founder, CEO and CTO at Terrafugia, said at MIT last weekend that the company wants to build something that is statistically safer than driving a car. 'It needs to be faster than driving a car. It needs to be simpler to operate than a plane. It needs to be more convenient than driving a car today. It needs to be sustainable in the long run,' he said. The company's flyable car is designed with foldable wings and falls into the light sport aircraft category. It's expected to take off and land at small, local airports and to drive on virtually any road. Dietrich said the next-generation flying car is a four-seat, plug-in hybrid that doesn't require the operator to be a full-fledged pilot. A spokeswoman said today that the company is probably two years away from production."

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is there going to be rehab too? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46344681)

it's in the water? http://youtu.be/sgdK3WVUEgg get it out http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=poison%20air%20home%20detox&sm=3

slashdot only allows.....

2 years and then 10 years (2)

DarkOx (621550) | about 9 months ago | (#46344711)

2 years from production and 10 years before the regulators first begin to think about permitting what will be essentially a drone with passengers.

Re:2 years and then 10 years (1)

turkeydance (1266624) | about 9 months ago | (#46344763)

a Big Drone, with unknown cargo, going where?

Re:2 years and then 10 years (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46344771)

If it has passengers, it's by definition not a drone.

Re:2 years and then 10 years (1)

Joce640k (829181) | about 9 months ago | (#46344915)

The people inside are only cargo. That makes it a drone. [wikipedia.org]

Re:2 years and then 10 years (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46345681)

The people inside are only cargo. That makes it a drone. [wikipedia.org]

Excuse me? I'm only cargo?

That's a bit of a slap in the face of a well-trained and highly educated mechanical or electrical engineer who designed the very thing you're being hauled around in.

I don't give a shit who has defined it. I am a human being. I am not fucking "cargo" regardless of transportation method.

Let's not forget how the last asshole-in-charge (Hitler) treated humans when they were devolved down to this level.

Also, the instant you define any vehicle with human occupants inside as merely a "cargo" vehicle, it becomes much easier to shoot it out of the sky when someone feels threatened. Our policies and governments have already devolved their citizens down to mere statistical numbers already. Cheapen it any more, and I promise you policy will follow, leaving you with as much Rights as cattle.

If you have even a shred of self-worth, you will not allow anyone to define you as cargo. Ever.

Re:2 years and then 10 years (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46346029)

Boy are you in for a surprise. No one gives a shit about dude, and they're going to do with you as they please.

Re:2 years and then 10 years (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46346323)

Boy are you in for a surprise. No one gives a shit about dude, and they're going to do with you as they please.

No, I'm not in for a surprise. It's certainly no surprise with fuck-it mentalities like yours how we became so powerless in the first place.

I'm merely making a statement, which is still valid. Humans are not cattle. Ask any lawyer. You're not going to get millions awarded because a cattle car overturned on the freeway. Millions are awarded all the time when humans are harmed or killed. Our own legal system defined that long ago. I fail to see how a new type of transportation for humans re-defines that, regardless of how "they" want to label it.

Re:2 years and then 10 years (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46350773)

what does this have to do with it being classified as a drone? If a human is not controlling it from a cockpit in the vehicle, it is a drone. It doesn't matter whether it is carrying missiles, babies, or 10 tons of lard, Its still a drone.

Re:2 years and then 10 years (1)

Immerman (2627577) | about 9 months ago | (#46346281)

If your mass is the only aspect of your existence relevant to the functioning of the vehicle then you are cargo. You could be replaced with a 200lb sack of potatoes for all the pilot cares. In fact as self-important and irate as you seem to be a human pilot would probably be willing to add a few hundred extra pounds and still consider it an improvement.

"Human cargo" is a well established term - it changes the kinds of safety restraints needed, but is otherwise irrelevant to the machine. Obviously it's a term used primarily in regards to engineering and logistics, and only an idiot would think it magically removes whatever value being human adds to the equation (hint - if you're dealing with people who like to blow things up that probably isn't much)

Re:2 years and then 10 years (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46347091)

Excuse me? I'm only cargo?

Yes. [slashdot.org]

Re:2 years and then 10 years (2)

Jahta (1141213) | about 9 months ago | (#46344873)

2 years from production and 10 years before the regulators first begin to think about permitting what will be essentially a drone with passengers.

Or perhaps never. Judging from my daily commute, most people struggle to drive safely and sensibly in two dimensions; three will be simply beyond them. And even if you introduce auto-pilot to remove the human driver, there's still things like the difference between keeping a roadworthy vehicle and an airworthy vehicle, and the potentially large volume of such cars compared to the number of aircraft today.

It will only take one of these cars to come down hard in a built-up area for their use to heavily restricted if not outright prohibited.

Re:2 years and then 10 years (1)

jellomizer (103300) | about 9 months ago | (#46346949)

Well I would expect a roboarioauto would probably fail to start if there was anything wrong, or something happened unexpected on the last flight, and demand maintenance.

Re:2 years and then 10 years (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46345153)

This is exactly why I'm confident that Terrafugia is a pipe dream; the regulators have made putting 1990's technology into recip's cost prohibitive. Hell, just getting the drawings approved to replace a non-structural plastic panel overlay with an aluminum one is $150K in engineering work, without any of the overhead or project management costs. Just to replace a fucking decorative panel. Sorry, flying car is a pipe dream.

Re:2 years and then 10 years (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46350823)

flying is a dream at this point. If the FAA had been as zealous in the 30s as we are now, we would be lucky to even use aluminum in planes.

Two years! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46348589)

That's two years from production on the current prototype, not the autonomous hybrid 4 seater. You have to read the base article, not the synopses.

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Re:LENDING MONEY VERY RELIABLE AND SECURE (1)

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Oh dear Lord (1)

EmagGeek (574360) | about 9 months ago | (#46344737)

Can we PLEASE not fill the sky with autonomous airplanes full of people who no clue how to fly airplanes when (not if) something goes wrong?

Re:Oh dear Lord (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46344887)

FYI I believe airplanes are capable of landing themselves in an emergency. Check out the "Talk down aircraft landing" page on Wikipedia and the MythBuster episode "Air Plane Hour".

Re:Oh dear Lord (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46344923)

It is called Category III and there are a few sub classifications on visibility for which kind of automated landing they can perform.

What you are wanting is REMOTE CONTROL of an airplane in an emergency, well.. it will come but it will be in secret because if the public got wind of it, they wouldnt fly. Ticket sales plumet.

A lot of travellers don't even understand automated Cat III landings exist.

Re:Oh dear Lord (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46345171)

Of course people understand it exists... it was abused in that Lethal Weapon movie where the Terrorists caused the plane to auto-land to low and go boom!

Dam terrorists... they are why we can't have nice things :(

Re:Oh dear Lord (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46345369)

LOL, I'm pretty sure that was a Die Hard movie.

Re:Oh dear Lord (1)

bobbied (2522392) | about 9 months ago | (#46345663)

LOL, I'm pretty sure that was a Die Hard movie.

Yea, it was, and it wasn't them messing with the automated landing system. They where messing with the ILS, which is decidedly NOT category III capable.

Re:Oh dear Lord (1)

bobbied (2522392) | about 9 months ago | (#46345637)

FYI I believe airplanes are capable of landing themselves

Yes and no. Sure gravity will eventually win and you WILL land, walking away can be a problem, having a flyable aircraft is slightly more of an issue.

Landing airplanes is not that difficult if you have a basic idea about what's going on and how the controls work. Throttle back and keep the thing fairly level and you are going to land. The real issue though is knowing how to get the airplane to hit the ground WHERE you want it to while in the configuration necessary. In a Cessna 150, where the landing configuration is pretty much set for you, getting lined up on glide path and speed can be hard the first few times, but the margin for error when facing a 200' wide 8,000' long runway is huge. A skilled pilot can land one of these on 10' wide 200' long strip but the margin for error is about zero. Commercial aircraft are usually high performance turbine powered affairs. They land on 100'x5000' runways all the time, but the margin for error is pretty low and the configuration of the aircraft quite specific.

Where I'm not saying a neophyte couldn't take the controls of a commercial aircraft and land with coaching, I'm am claiming that this is a high risk thing to try. The bigger and faster the airplane, the lower chance of this being successful.

Re:Oh dear Lord (1)

geekoid (135745) | about 9 months ago | (#46346593)

All modern commercial aircraft can land themselves.

Re:Oh dear Lord (1)

bobbied (2522392) | about 9 months ago | (#46347307)

I'd be careful with "all" in your statement. No they ALL cannot land themselves. Many commercial aircraft are supplied with CAT 3 capacity, but not ALL of them. I would contend that *most* commercial aircraft are NOT delivered with CAT 3 equipment, because it is pretty expensive and usually unnecessary. In fact most new commercial aircraft only carry only ILS certified avionics packages.

And I'd like to point out that "land itself" is a bit misleading, even for CAT 3. Yes, the aircraft can touch down and even stop itself, but without the pilot, even a Cat 3 capable aircraft isn't going to land itself. The equipment only is capable of doing the flying (stick, rudder, throttle) the REST of the aircraft's systems are still the pilot's duties (Flaps, spoilers, auto-breaking settings, landing gear etc). Not to mention that a CAT 3 approach is going to require the pilot to position the aircraft to be at the correct altitude, airspeed and heading over the initial approach fix before the automation will take over.

So it's not ALL commercial aircraft that come properly equipped and even with the equipment there is a need for a pilot to run the other systems (like putting the gear down..) and get you on the ground.

Re:Oh dear Lord (1)

slimjim8094 (941042) | about 9 months ago | (#46347325)

Nope. They may have the equipment, but they need a Category IIIb instrument landing system at the airport to actually do so, along with a crew certified to operate it. All of which are shockingly expensive - you need computer equipment that continues to work after a failure, which in practical terms means you need a lot of computers cross-checking each other and extremely rigorously designed software (I think 7 9's). The ground equipment is similarly extremely expensive, rather tempermental, and requires lots of checking and re-certification (the risk of being wrong is that the plane flies into the ground).

Lesser categories of ILS (i.e., the ones at almost all airports, even commercial passenger carrying ones) require transitioning to visual control at or above the decision height to avoid going missed.

Re:Oh dear Lord (1)

bobbied (2522392) | about 9 months ago | (#46347607)

One more thing..

NOBODY flies at better than CAT 3b, which is still not "land itself" but allows you to land with RVR as low as 50 meters. Which means you have to have a pilot and at least 50 meters visibility to get the thing on the ground.

Land itself would be CAT 3c, which is not allowed anywhere in the world.

See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/I... [wikipedia.org]

The best you will usually see is CAT 1, even on most commercial aircraft. Few will have CAT 2 equipment. Most crews will only be certified to CAT 2 at best, mainly because they don't need anything better 99.99% of the time and the cost of keeping the aircraft and crew certified is pretty high. For most routes, it's cheaper to put a planeload of passengers on a buss on occasion, than eat the costs of keeping everything current, even at CAT 2.

Re:Oh dear Lord (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46347701)

I think you meant to say "some" modern "airline transport" aircraft can "attempt" to land themselves at a "very few" airports that have the right equipment.

GA aircraft, which can also be commercial, don't land themselves.

Disclaimer: I am a commercial pilot, and my modern commercial aircraft does NOT land itself.

Re:Oh dear Lord (1)

NikeHerc (694644) | about 9 months ago | (#46359731)

All modern commercial aircraft can land themselves.

If nothing goes wrong.

I'm not at all thrilled with the idea of a sky full of flying cars, irrespective of whether the pilot is a machine or a trained professional.

Re:Oh dear Lord (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46347581)

No, they are not. Airplanes with specific (Cat III autoland) capabilities, with specific, certified crew on board, landing at specific airports with specific Cat III approaches, can land themselves. If everything on the airplane is not working perfectly, you are not doing a Cat III autoland (unless you're suicidal).

What the poster was talking about, and what I agree with, is what happens when things DO (and they do) go wrong? Engine failure in flight? No problem for a drone, just point it to a field somewhere, let it make a crater, and call the insurance company. But for an aircraft full of people, if you have an engine failure in flight, you need a qualified, trained pilot who is capable of identifying an off-airport landing area, then performing that landing, regardless of whatever systems on the aircraft may be malfunctioning.

Things go wrong on airplanes. All the time. Pilots are trained in what to do when they do go wrong. When they encounter a situation that their training hasn't covered - usually because of a failure mode nobody could have anticipated, human ingenuity, experience, training and skill are required to figure out a solution to the problem.

Re:Oh dear Lord (1)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | about 9 months ago | (#46344975)

Is this any better than filling the sky with pilots who fly as well as most people drive? If you think drink-driving is dangerous, wait until a car comes through your roof from a hundred meters up.

Re:Oh dear Lord (1)

geekoid (135745) | about 9 months ago | (#46346577)

Automated system in aircraft respond faster and better to unexpected events then any human.

Autonomous? No, thanks (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46344753)

The only vehicle in which I trust is one that does not have freedom of movement like a train. I do not trust anything more complex than that without constant human supervision.

Re:Autonomous? No, thanks (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46345199)

At some point, automated systems will be much more reliable than humans. Watching in all directions and not distracted by text messages.

Are we there yet? Will we be there in "2 years"? Will it be good enough to fly planes, trains and automobiles?

The questions really isn't if... but when... when will we cross the threshold that autonomous vehicles are better.

How will people learn to swear then? (1)

rmdingler (1955220) | about 9 months ago | (#46344777)

Relying on logic boards will take a bit of the sport out of cursing other drivers for their poor driving skills.

What are poor drivers, exactly?

Why, anyone who doesn't drive like you.

Re:How will people learn to swear then? (1)

JTsyo (1338447) | about 9 months ago | (#46346681)

I'm sure aggressive drivers would be really pissed if they saw others drive like them.

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Duke Nukem Forever and now Flying Cars (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46344809)

The future is upon us after all.

Car-Planes are not Flying Cars. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46344883)

Flying Car implies it works like a car while it's flying.

Re:Car-Planes are not Flying Cars. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46344979)

A flying boat doesn't work like a boat when it is flying ...

Re:Car-Planes are not Flying Cars. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46345209)

A flying boat doesn't doesn't work like a boat when it is flying,

Never seen a flyng boat sink to the bottom of a sea while still flying.

Re:Car-Planes are not Flying Cars. (1)

Sockatume (732728) | about 9 months ago | (#46345583)

We have that, it's called a helicopter. You can stop, reverse, park in a space not much bigger than your vehicle, turn in a non-geologic timescale...

Re:Car-Planes are not Flying Cars. (1)

Overzeetop (214511) | about 9 months ago | (#46345979)

So you want a Moller sky car. Which oddly enough, may be no too far off if projects like the one that mated a quad (or hex?) copter with an SUV-like frame.

in our own image? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46344893)

selective breeding making big comeback? are we practicing nazi zion hypenosys again? http://www.theverge.com/2014/2/26/5448866/us-weighs-the-pros-and-cons-of-crafting-embryos-from-three-people (& who knows what else? gargoyles, psychopaths, yikes almighty phewww)

Always future...Never now... (3, Interesting)

spiritgreywolf (683532) | about 9 months ago | (#46344927)

Okay seriously... I've yet to see a few dozen of the _current_ Terrafugia flying cars roll off a production assembly line (or is it fly?) and here we go chatting about a four-seat plug-in hybrid that doesn't require the pilot to be a be a "full-fledged pilot"? Really? How about actually building and selling something more than a prototype before leaping on the "next-generation" bandwagon already?

Mr. Deitrich - we're not even close to having something with a power-to-weight ratio in battery storage to get anything but a giant carbon-fiber glider out of ground-effect for any length of time and you have a spokesperson saying something about being only two years away from production?

Okay, where is he? No really. Is Moller and his Skycar hiding in the weeds someplace behind this company?

Also, I would think that someone with the money to pull off buying even a low-rider existing Terrafugia prototype - won't have issues learning how to be a "full-fledged pilot". I say this only because I am considering what the monstrous price-tag would be for a semi-autonomous electric-hybrid aircraft capable of carrying four people and having a range of anything beyond running a touch-and-go pattern even once at the airport. That being on top of how long it would take the FAA to approve that kind of vehicle.

Tilt rotor hybrid for the public? LOL! Yep. I hear we've got a huge shipment of unobtainium coming from Pandora to help in its construction. And as soon as I finish my distillation of my current batch of impossibilium for powering its Infinite Improbability Drive - we're set! Only two years away!

What amazing times we live in!

(tongue planted firmly in my cheek while Terrafugia's head is planted firmly in their ass. Hopefully they have a clear acrylic stomach lining so they can see where they're going)

Apologies in advance for my dour attitude. I put Terrafugia, Moller and any production "flying car" right up there with next generation solar cells cheap enough for everyone and super carbon-nanotube batteries with enormous energy densities being available.

Oh wait! No... False alarm... No monkeys flying out of my ass yet... I guess I'll have breakfast and carry on with my day... :(

Re:Always future...Never now... (1)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | about 9 months ago | (#46345003)

The only way I see this working would be for the mega-rich as a more convenient alternative to a helicopter to commute from mansion to office. A private helipad at each end, and it'd be a lot faster than driving. Sure, it might cost a few million dollars, and a few hundred more in fuel each trip, but some people can throw that kind of money away - and would rather not deal with depending on a human pilot.

Re:Always future...Never now... (1)

Viol8 (599362) | about 9 months ago | (#46345151)

Regulations will probably still mandate having a pilot on board even if he doesn't fly it. In which case they might as well take the money, buy a helicopter in the first place and then a couple of Bentleys with the change.

Re:Always future...Never now... (1)

spiritgreywolf (683532) | about 9 months ago | (#46346209)

Knowing the glacial rate at which government approvals work I would have to agree with this scenario :-)

Re:Always future...Never now... (1)

spiritgreywolf (683532) | about 9 months ago | (#46346175)

True however I would posit that the technology would be there sooner to retro-fit a piston-powered Robinson R-44 with autonomous technology than creating the magic battery hybrid for clearance through the FAA.

There definitely are people that have that kind of expendable income, but I am looking at it from the feasibility aspect as well. The technology for near-pilotless hybrid Osprey-like personal aircraft is probably further away than Moller and his imaginary Skycar.

Re:Always future...Never now... (1)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | about 9 months ago | (#46352023)

Take helicopter. Remove controls. Add piloting computer. Use the weight savings to sound-dampen the interior.

You can use optical guidance for landing - paint markers on the helipads it can lock on to. With GPS navigation, the basic flight it easy. Only problem technically is that in the event of mechanical failure, the computer won't be so good as an experience human at picking out a landing site and setting down safely.

I can see a few advantages in convenience though. Get in and dial. No need for a schedule* to follow or a human pilot to sit around waiting until you are ready to head home for the day.

*Let us assume that, as a toy of the mega-rich, they can sway the FAA into lessening regulations a bit - perhaps they FAA could even set up an automatic flight path approval computer allowing journeys to be approved as and when desired while still ensuring no other aircraft are on intersecting paths.

Re:Always future...Never now... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46345607)

Nice rant, bro!

Re:Always future...Never now... (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 9 months ago | (#46346597)

Okay seriously... I've yet to see a few dozen of the _current_ Terrafugia flying cars roll off a production assembly line (or is it fly?) and here we go chatting about a four-seat plug-in hybrid that doesn't require the pilot to be a be a "full-fledged pilot"? Really? How about actually building and selling something more than a prototype before leaping on the "next-generation" bandwagon already?

Dingdingding! Terrafugia is this decade's Moller. Oh shit, this flying car thing is hard! Let's claim that we're waiting for new technology so that we can go back to the drawing board for another two years!

Re:Always future...Never now... (1)

jonwil (467024) | about 9 months ago | (#46350813)

At least Terrafugia has shown their vehicle in both full driving mode and full flight mode (i.e. not the limited tethered tests that are all that Moller ever showed)

They have even managed to convince both the FAA (who regulate planes) and NHTSB (who regulate cars) to come to the party and agree on waivers for certain requirements where both agencies differ in the requirements.

So all the "hard stuff" seems to me to have been solved and its just a matter of getting the production right.

Re:Always future...Never now... (1)

joe_frisch (1366229) | about 9 months ago | (#46354137)

Yup. The Hiller museum near here has a "flying car" from the 50's. Really not much has changed in the last 3 generations. The additional weight and drag required to make a vehicle a car, make it a terrible airplane. It may get off the ground, but the performance is terrible. (see the terrafugia which has a slow cruise speed, (100mph) and for its size requires a ton of runway - 1700'). Useful load is only 500 pounds. 23 gallons of gas is 130 pounds, so it just barely carries 2, 170 pound adults.

Its just easier to drive to the airport, get in your plane, and have a rental car waiting at your destination - I do it all the time. The really isn't much advantage to having the same vehicle do both.

Re:Always future...Never now... (1)

spiritgreywolf (683532) | about 9 months ago | (#46358395)

See, that's the thing. I have a friend that does exactly that - but he went one step further and just parked a small no-frills car at the airport and leaves it there. I'm always surprised at how easy it is to get in and out of small GA airports. But again - it ain't cheap by any stretch. "Save Money" and "Own a Plane" are never two things that live together well - but I will say it's damned convenient with the scenario you describe. In the Terrafugia I would just be too damn worried of getting my wings pranged by some idiot driver while trying to get to the runway. One small accident will erase every gain you might have had by not having to tie down your plane at the airport. And forget the accident - a small piece of debris or pothole will incur some substantial A&P time...

The flying cars try to do both things well (fly and drive) and are good at neither. Of course the definition of "well" is subjective. I live in Albuquerque - and to me the test would be what are the performance numbers of something that can take off at a runway that's about 7K ASL already and 100 degrees in the summer. Those pie-in-the-sky numbers manufacturers try to play to don't exist in real life.

And if I want to go sub-100MPH in a plane that drives I'd just get the PAL-V here http://pal-v.com/the-pal-v-one... [pal-v.com] Reminds me of a "canyon carver" and gyro rolled into one. Again even this is WAY too expensive and has similar suck-numbers for useful load after gas in the tank - but does look like a lot of fun - but it too suffers from the "Oh dear god don't let the idiot without insurance hit my plane!"

Autonomous? Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha! (0)

Chas (5144) | about 9 months ago | (#46345013)

Howsabout FUCK NO!

Re:Autonomous? Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahah (2)

oodaloop (1229816) | about 9 months ago | (#46346505)

That was a really insightful argument. I particularly like your cited evidence and well-thought out conclusion. Thanks for making slashdot great!

Re:Autonomous? Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahah (0)

Chas (5144) | about 9 months ago | (#46347553)

Howsabout this.

I don't trust automobiles enough to give up control of them when they only have to deal with two dimensions of travel.
Adding a third dimension of travel is pretty much right outta there.

You could say it adds yet another "dimension" to my distrust.

Re:Autonomous? Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahah (1)

squiggleslash (241428) | about 9 months ago | (#46349617)

That third dimension adds extra layers of safety. In 2D, you have to veer left or right to dodge an obstacle. In 3D, you also have up and down, or any combination thereof, and you can start off flying at a level where there are very few obstacles to begin with.

Re:Autonomous? Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahah (1)

Chas (5144) | about 9 months ago | (#46351781)

That third dimension also adds two NEW vectors that have to be constantly monitored.
Remember, it's not as if only you and a potential obstacle are going to be the only things in the sky.

Re:Autonomous? Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahah (-1, Flamebait)

walidben finance (3553579) | about 9 months ago | (#46350979)

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Re:Autonomous? Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahah (1)

squiggleslash (241428) | about 9 months ago | (#46349523)

How about F YES?

Autonomous is about the only sensible way we can implement "flying cars". And it's probably, realistically, the case that the only way we can implement autonomous cars is if they're flying (short of us building out a national grade separated tracked road network that joins every building in the country)

As someone who hates driving, and hates being forced to drive, and knows damned well the chances of us getting a decent zoning system in most of the US so people can actually live in places well served with transit are minimal, I see flying autonomous cars as the next best thing.

Of course, it's almost equally unlikely to happen.

Speaking of unrealistic expectations (1)

Kuroji (990107) | about 9 months ago | (#46345041)

They want their flying car to be completely autonomous. I want their flying car to be released to the public in a completed state, period. And the five dozen other "flying cars" while we're at it that are sitting in development hell because the FAA will not approve them for use. Ever.

I suspect we are both equally likely to get what we want!

Re:Speaking of unrealistic expectations (-1, Flamebait)

walidben finance (3553579) | about 9 months ago | (#46351011)

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Yeah (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46345043)

It won't happen though.

Top priorities (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46345063)

I see they got their priorities right....

When designing a flying car, my top priority would be to make an actual flying car first, then make it autonomous.

But then again... I'm not designing a flying car.

Bonus feature... (1)

ThatsDrDangerToYou (3480047) | about 9 months ago | (#46345185)

It will ship with the latest copy of Duke Nukem on the console, when they are in production in "2" years.

Skynet getting pushy (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46345207)

Not only autonomous, passengerless also. Skynet wins by default.

Let's solve to impossible things at once! (1)

DeTech (2589785) | about 9 months ago | (#46345317)

I hate it when emerging technophiles try to take on too large of a problem... I hate it even more when they try to garner buzz by taking on two. Might as well 3d print it, give it high powers lazer beams and next gen batteries while you're at it.

Re:Let's solve to impossible things at once! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46349443)

What's a "lazer"? Light Amplification by Zoological emitted radiation?

George, Son of Jet (1)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | about 9 months ago | (#46345459)

> autonomous

I do believe that's been the plan for 70 uears now. Also, a hex or octo rotor thing so several engines can go out and it still make a safe landing.

Let's get a move on.

Re:George, Son of Jet (1)

Tablizer (95088) | about 9 months ago | (#46346915)

They've just perfected flying monkeys and can control WHERE they fly out of. So it's flying cars' time now.

Why develop driveable planes? (1)

Sockatume (732728) | about 9 months ago | (#46345527)

I remember an Arthur C. Clarke story which had in its background a late-era human society (Rescue Party, I think). They had become the ultimate commuter society because conventional automobiles had been replaced by medium-range, personal aircraft that could conveniently travel to any business, home, etc. without needing as much road infrastructure, and which let you build a house up a mountain or in a forest clearing that was as accessible as one on a razed plain. They weren't flying cars, though. They were helicopters.

I think the flying car's problem is that they're working on a particular solution (essentially a driveable plane), rather than working on meeting a particular need (personal aircraft).

Re:Why develop driveable planes? (1)

walidben finance (3553579) | about 9 months ago | (#46351029)

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Here's when flying cars will happen. (1)

jeffb (2.718) (1189693) | about 9 months ago | (#46345685)

Flying cars will not happen when power-plants get powerful enough, or efficient enough, or reliable enough.

Flying cars will not happen when the FAA comes up with rules to regulate vehicles that are both airworthy and road-worthy.

Flying cars most emphatically will not happen when flying-car startups courting venture capital say they'll happen.

Nope. Flying cars will happen when drones have become ubiquitous enough, trusted enough, and large enough that people start to say, "Hey! If I can hire a drone to carry 250 pounds of cargo across the state for fifty bucks, knowing that it'll show up within 30 minutes, make the trip in an hour, and have less than a one-in-a-million chance of dropping it along the way -- why can't I hire it to carry ME?"

Re:Here's when flying cars will happen. (1)

spiritgreywolf (683532) | about 9 months ago | (#46346273)

people start to say, "Hey! If I can hire a drone to carry 250 pounds of cargo across the state for fifty bucks, knowing that it'll show up within 30 minutes, make the trip in an hour, and have less than a one-in-a-million chance of dropping it along the way -- why can't I hire it to carry ME?"

This right here - truer words have never been spoken :-)

I recall an outfit I think in Germany that came up with a giant multi-bladed beast to carry a single pilot (looked like a quad-copter but with something like 19 or 20 blades) but the issue is still batteries. Awesome concept - but until something with a battery can handle sustained 1+ hour flights with a 250-300 pound payload, it'll never see the light of day :-(

Perhaps we should get Elon Musk on it? I'd trust him to do it before Moller and Terrafugia :-)

Re:Here's when flying cars will happen. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46346429)

Flying cars will not happen when power-plants get powerful enough, or efficient enough, or reliable enough.

Flying cars will not happen when the FAA comes up with rules to regulate vehicles that are both airworthy and road-worthy...

I guess it's sure as hell is a good thing 100 years ago we didn't have a suffering wet blanket of liability tossed over every fucking creative idea man has nowadays.

The FAA of today would have never let the Wright brothers leave the fucking ground. The OSHA of today would have never let Franklin play with electricity. See what happens when you continue to stifle innovation with liability. We will die as a species. And quickly.

I hate it when liability gets in the way of innovation. We humans aren't able to evolve any further with that kind of shit going on.

Re:Here's when flying cars will happen. (1)

jeffb (2.718) (1189693) | about 9 months ago | (#46346745)

I guess it's sure as hell is a good thing 100 years ago we didn't have a suffering wet blanket of liability tossed over every fucking creative idea man has nowadays.

The FAA of today would have never let the Wright brothers leave the fucking ground. The OSHA of today would have never let Franklin play with electricity. See what happens when you continue to stifle innovation with liability. We will die as a species. And quickly.

I hate it when liability gets in the way of innovation. We humans aren't able to evolve any further with that kind of shit going on.

See, this is why I'm excited about drones. As long as they're not carrying people, and not big enough to kill people, we can continue to make rapid advances in intelligence, reliability, efficiency, and so forth. Then, when we have to face the regulators, we've got a much better baseline of reliability and performance to start from, and we've also got an established base population of the things. That, I think, improves the odds for those trying to push through the regulatory molasses.

Re:Here's when flying cars will happen. (1)

geekoid (135745) | about 9 months ago | (#46346629)

"why can't I hire it to carry ME?""
because you would probably die.

Reminds me of an old joke... (1)

bobbied (2522392) | about 9 months ago | (#46345809)

Announcement after take off on a commercial fight:

"Welcome aboard ladies and gentlemen for our flight to Chicago." (continues to discuss the flight altitude, weather in Chicago etc.)

"And one final announcement before you sit back and enjoy your flight. This airline believes in advanced technology and we are pleased to tell you that you are on the FIRST fully automated commercial flight to fly without pilots. We have thought of every eventuality and have programmed the autopilot to deal with each and every one. Please don't worry... Nothing Can go wrong....

(click) Go wrong.....

(click) Go Wrong...... "

Re:Reminds me of an old joke... (1)

geekoid (135745) | about 9 months ago | (#46346637)

And? They do that now. Well, not the announcement bit.

Thank you, Captain Obvious (1)

RogueWarrior65 (678876) | about 9 months ago | (#46345947)

*facepalm* This guy is saying the painfully obvious without talking about how to make it happen. It's like saying "What the world needs is a Star Trek transporter that's as easy to use as a phone booth."

Re:Thank you, Captain Obvious (1)

spiritgreywolf (683532) | about 9 months ago | (#46346293)

Even then he's not worried that the faux-pilot would dial the wrong number...

"WTH? I thought I was going to Alberta. Who the Hell are you people? I don't understand anything you're saying. Why is it so hot? And quit waving that damn AK-47 in my face!"

Bring it on! I mean up! (1)

Tablizer (95088) | about 9 months ago | (#46346867)

If this is going to work in big cities, then machine control will probably be a necessity. Manual control would be too risky in crowded skies.

All that wasted sky above and cars are stuck in a 2D log-jam, why the hell not?

"statistically safer than driving a car" (1)

bob_super (3391281) | about 9 months ago | (#46347517)

I'm moving to the outback. Or Antarctica.

Cars kill hundreds of thousands every year! Ten of thousands in developed countries alone! They injure millions!
And they usually don't plummet to the ground in the process...
I can easily assess whether I'm at risk of being injured in a car accident, because it involves being on or near a road.

So if your autonomous car isn't, AT THE VERY LEAST, 10x MORE reliable than AIRPLANES (already the safest way to travel horizontally), I don't want my government to allow them.

Did I mention you have to ground the thing automatically is maintenance hasn't been done? I see the junk cars driving around, no thanks!

Poor precedents (1)

whizbang77045 (1342005) | about 9 months ago | (#46348311)

I've lost count of the number of flying car designs I've seen over the years. It's always seemed a good idea on the surface, but almost no one buys them. Is there a reason to believe this will be different? Other than a "smoke and mirrors" or "whisling in the dark" answer.

prediction/prophecy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46349547)

I see dead and maimed people and lawyers making a good living off lawsuits for the 'autonomous flying car'

Nothing like being misquoted by the tech press... (1)

CarlDietrich (3553537) | about 9 months ago | (#46350069)

Two points of clarification for the Slashdot community: 1) Terrafugia's first product, the Transition, is expected to hit the market in 2016 -- about two years from now. It is NOT autonomous. It is a single engine piston aircraft that can fold up its wings in less than 60 seconds, legally drive on roads and highways, and park in a single car garage. Our customers value the additional freedom and flexibility it provides them compared to "normal" aircraft, but you still must become at least a sport pilot in order to legally operate the Transition. 2) Terrafugia's TF-X is a product that is in the conceptual design stage (it is where the Transition was back in 2006). It is probably 8-12 years from market. The timeline will be significantly affected by how quickly the FAA adopts new ASTM standards for electric propulsion and fly-by-wire technologies for general aviation aircraft. TF-X will include a high level of human directed local autonomy (HDLA), but it is NOT totally autonomous. The operator is needed to make key high level decisions at critical phases of flight (e.g. is it safe to take-off? Is it safe to land here?). The operator is not cargo. They have the responsibility and authority for the safe operation of the vehicle. But TF-X allows it to be much easier to safely operate the vehicle by eliminating the need for traditional "pilot skills" like flight planning, memorizing cloud-clearance and visibility requirements in different classes of airspace, and traditional stick-and-rudder skills among other things. Our contention is that a system that relies on computers for nitty-gritty things that change very little, and the human to deal with things that could change dramatically (e.g. abort decisions and/or emergency scenarios) will result in a much safer, more robust overall system. Statistically speaking, Loss Of Control (LOC) is the leading cause of fatal accidents in general aviation -- not a failure of the aircraft, but a failure of the pilot to maintain sufficiently low angle of attack during normal operations -- often on approach to landing -- a problem that could be directly addressed with full envelope protection enabled by new fly-by-wire technologies that incorporate this high degree of human directed local autonomy. With this type of system, it is possible to make flying personal aircraft significantly easier and safer. That is what we are trying to do: make personal aviation useful for a much larger segment of the population. It's not an easy problem, but it's one with huge potential pay off (which is why there have been so many attempts in the past). It is unfortunate that the important subtleties of my talk at the MIT Tech Conference on Saturday did not get through to the original author of the story and that the critical difference between a fully autonomous aircraft and our TF-X concept is difficult to discern. For those who care about Terrafugia's efforts to make a practical flying car, I hope this comment is helpful. Check out www.terrafugia.com for more info. -Carl

Re: Nothing like being misquoted by the tech press (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46351689)

That makes more sense.

Nevertheless, the idea of a roadable airplane is not going to work. Driving any significant distance on the road, especially when the weather is bad, will be too risky. Because a simple 'fender bender' or parking lot door ding, or gravel hit would require air worthiness inspections and $$K repairs. I love flying, but I do not believe you can make a practical roadable car.

Re: Nothing like being misquoted by the tech press (1)

CarlDietrich (3553537) | about 9 months ago | (#46367279)

That's a legitimate concern -- we turned it into a design challenge, and we think our design mitigates the concern sufficiently -- to the point where there is a large enough market to justify the investment. We also have confidence that our customers will be able to buy insurance for it.
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