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'Flying Saucers' to Go On Sale Soon

CowboyNeal posted more than 6 years ago | from the meet-george-jetson dept.

327

gihan_ripper writes "Perhaps the ultimate nerd acquisition, the flying car, is to go on sale in a few months. Speaking to the BBC, the inventor Dr Paul Moller described his creation, dubbed the Flying Saucer, as a VTOL aircraft designed to hover at 10 ft. above the ground. The flying saucer has eight engines and is expected to sell for $90,000. Dr Moller expects to produce a successor within six years, a 'Skycar' capable of a climb rate of 6000 ft./min. and an airspeed of 400 mph."

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I'm already dead (5, Funny)

networkBoy (774728) | more than 6 years ago | (#20420837)

from holding my breath

All I need now.... (0)

canipeal (1063334) | more than 6 years ago | (#20420897)

Is a dog like Astro and I'll be all set!

Be sure to look both ways... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20421603)

and up

I had one (4, Funny)

MarkRose (820682) | more than 6 years ago | (#20420849)

I had a flying saucer once, but when it landed it broke into a thousand shards.

Re:I had one (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20420873)

stupid naaru crystal tech

Re:I had one (2, Funny)

waa (159514) | more than 6 years ago | (#20420891)

...of indestructible pieces of unearthly tinfoil-like metal :)

Re:I had one (4, Funny)

Divebus (860563) | more than 6 years ago | (#20421007)

I'd love to hear the morning traffic report if more than three of these get sold into one metro area. It ain't just fender-benders anymore, folks. The accidents are bound to be specatcular.

Back to the future 2!! (5, Interesting)

LaZZaR (216092) | more than 6 years ago | (#20420857)

Strange thing is, the other day I was thinking about Back to the Future 2, how all those years ago the writers thought we might all have flying cars in 2015, and how off the mark they were. Looks like they were right after all!

Re:Back to the future 2!! (2, Informative)

Lisandro (799651) | more than 6 years ago | (#20421197)

I always thought the flying cars thing in BTTF 2 were a bit tongue in cheek; in fact, the whole representation of the future was meant to be humorous. I still laugh when i hear Doc Brown's comparison of the meteorological and postal services in the future ;)

Re:Back to the future 2!! (5, Interesting)

Mex (191941) | more than 6 years ago | (#20421391)

Don't be fooled. This Moller person pops up every year on Slashdot and other websites touting his machine, with the same 10 second clips of a "flying car". Add me to the list of people who will "Believe it when I see it".

I post this because I remember this exact same person being promoted here on slashdot at least 3 years ago.

Re:Back to the future 2!! (3, Informative)

Jeff DeMaagd (2015) | more than 6 years ago | (#20421445)

Moller has been saying something to the effect of "in five years" for the last fourty years. Every story on this guy, his project and the ideal that it supposedly represents bugs me. This BBC story digs up the most dirt that I've seen from this kind of story so far, and that's just "it's not yet approved by the FAA". That's because it probably will never be approved. As far as I'm concerned, stories like this only aid this scammer. The SEC had sued Moller - the same SEC that's been on their duffs over SCO's pump and dump scheme, if that gives you any indication of how bad it is.

at least 20 years old (5, Informative)

Dusthead Jr. (937949) | more than 6 years ago | (#20420877)

I saw this and previous veriations on this way back in 1987 on a tech show called Beyond 2000. 20 years later and still a prototype.

Re:at least 20 years old (1)

Moofdot (901986) | more than 6 years ago | (#20420903)

Yeah, I have some old auto/jet leaflets from around that time with it in there as well.

Re:at least 20 years old (5, Interesting)

russellh (547685) | more than 6 years ago | (#20420943)

I saw this and previous veriations on this way back in 1987 on a tech show called Beyond 2000. 20 years later and still a prototype.
I remember it. Was it not called the merlin then? I remember reading about it in some popsci rag in 1989 or so. My dad worked at a research lab in fuels and combustion in those days and his colleagues didn't believe the power to weight ratio claims for the engines. I so wanted to believe though.

Re:at least 20 years old (1)

Hezqiyahu (695942) | more than 6 years ago | (#20421085)

I believe you're right. I have saved that magazine dreaming of the day when it's prophecies would come to pass. I'll have to dig it out and take a look.

Re:at least 20 years old (4, Interesting)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 6 years ago | (#20421103)

his colleagues didn't believe the power to weight ratio claims for the engines.

That's really what was killing him. His initial claims were impressive, but it was easy to see from his hover tests that he wasn't getting quite the power originally promised. In fact, he had to abandon the thrust redirection slats he originally promised, and moved to rotating nacelle design. That, of course, had a direct impact on the stability of the vehicle's hover capabilities.

I remember watching the hover test videos for the first time. Over the loud whine of the engines as they struggled to keep the craft aloft, I kept thinking "those props don't have enough power". Supposedly he recently upgraded the engines on the craft, so we'll see how that goes.

All in all, it's going to be a fancy airplane. You'll still need a pilot's license and you'll still need much of the same clearance as a plane needs. I want to believe that it will be an aircraft that "anyone" can fly, but my gut says it will be a deathtrap for any untrained pilots that dare to attempt to fly the contraption.

Still, best of luck to Mr. Moller. It's great to see a "done" model of this finally arrive! :)

Re:at least 20 years old (1)

arivanov (12034) | more than 6 years ago | (#20421299)

All in all, it's going to be a fancy airplane.

All in all it will be a very fancy fuel bill is probably a more accurate description.

Re:at least 20 years old (1)

jcr (53032) | more than 6 years ago | (#20421439)

Moller's been "five years away" from delivering the skycar for at least 20 years. I'll believe it when I see it.

-jcr

With Moller... (5, Informative)

Merk (25521) | more than 6 years ago | (#20420887)

I'll believe it when I can actually buy one. Much as I'd like a flying car, his always seem to be "Real Soon Now(TM)" AFAIK, Moller has never actually had anything for sale. Downside(R) lists his company as a scam [downside.com] because it has been a few years from production for 30 years. There have also been SEC complaints [sec.gov] for "fraudulent, unregistered offering and the filing of a fraudulent Form 10-SB by Moller International, Inc. ("MI" or "the company"), a California company engaged in the development of a personal aircraft known as "the Skycar.""

I'd like to be wrong, but I sure won't be putting down any money just yet.

Yeah, it is a scam. (4, Funny)

Gary W. Longsine (124661) | more than 6 years ago | (#20421001)

The last time he was in the headlines was a few years ago. The SkyCar was going to go on sale soon. What the press release and news articles didn't say was that it was *the* one and only prototype SkyCar that was going to go on sale, in the Nieman Marcaus catalog. This guy comes out with a press release every few years to raise cash for toys. Last time I looked at his web page he was also selling some kind of diet supplement pills, right on the same page with the SkyCar info! Scam scam scam scam scammity-scam scammity-scam! Can I have his scam? I like scam!

Re:With Moller... (1)

johnny cashed (590023) | more than 6 years ago | (#20421025)

AFAIK, Moller has never actually had anything for sale.

Well, he did start SuperTrapp Industries. They are still in business, Moller sold off that subsidiary in 1988. He has an impressive resume, but I agree, I've been watching him try to develop the flying car for at least a couple of decades now.

Re:With Moller... (1)

grassy_knoll (412409) | more than 6 years ago | (#20421137)

Seems like it's available "Real Soon Now" for large values of "Soon".

from TFA:
By the time the Skycar goes into production - probably in about six years time - it will be capable of climbing 6,000ft a minute and travelling at up to 400 miles an hour.

I'd say your skepticism is warranted.

Re:With Moller... (3, Interesting)

pchan- (118053) | more than 6 years ago | (#20421219)

I'd say your skepticism is warranted..
I have somewhere in a stack of papers a popular mechanics article from 1986 (yes, 21 years ago), that claims the Moller Skycar will be out in a few years and listing those exact specs. I'm all out of skepticism, all I have left is disbelief.

Re:With Moller... (2, Funny)

king-manic (409855) | more than 6 years ago | (#20421283)

I'm all out of skepticism, all I have left is disbelief.

You roll a 18, you disbelieve the illusion.

Re:With Moller... (1)

rts008 (812749) | more than 6 years ago | (#20421415)

LOL!
The onboard PC on the flying car will also come with DukeNukem 4 installed for traffic jam entertainment.

pchan was right, I read the article, but unlike him I do not have it archived in any form other than my memory....which reminds me...Hey you kids!!!Get off of my lawn!!!!

Re:With Moller... (0)

pclminion (145572) | more than 6 years ago | (#20421161)

Since when did "failure" equate to "fraud?" I'd like to see some real evidence that he's been purposefully defrauding investors...

Re:With Moller... (1)

Bruce Perens (3872) | more than 6 years ago | (#20421281)

It is entirely possible that he has been fooling himself for the 40 years or so he's been trying to make a flying car. But that doesn't mean anyone else should be fooled and I'm not sure that an abiding but irrational faith in yourself should absolve one of fraud charges. There are some successful (meaning that they really flew) flying vehicles in the Hiller Museum that meant to address a similar market, and were made in a few years by competent aeronautical engineers.

Re:With Moller... (2, Interesting)

Ginsu2000 (556427) | more than 6 years ago | (#20421293)

Sir Richard Branson actually got arrested in the early days of Virgin Music if you read his excellent autobiography (evading VAT tax) and he had to pay it back or he would go to prison! Moller and Branson (Virgin Galactic) have determination and vision, which is exactly what you need when it comes down to being the next Henry Ford. Wonder how Scaled Composites (Virgin Galactic) and the Cartercopter guys view the skycar? I think it looks a lot more feasable than other flying cars. The time is now! As I've said before I am unconvinced of the saucer - but bring on the skycar! Try the model for free with X-plane http://www.x-plane.org/ [x-plane.org]

Re:With Moller... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20421333)

Give me a break! I bought one of his "information kits" when I was around 17. That car wasn't flying yet, but it would be "very soon". I'm now 50. Moller is a fraud. Period.

C'mon, cut the guy some slack... (2, Insightful)

Franklin Brauner (1034220) | more than 6 years ago | (#20421359)

It's not the easiest business to pull together, and I don't see many more people even trying. What is it to any of us to wait a couple of years. Hell, I'll wait ten -- twenty years if I have to. But every journey begins with a single step.

Re:With Moller... (5, Insightful)

edwardpickman (965122) | more than 6 years ago | (#20421405)

I wondered back in the 80s if he was for real or a scam artist but I have no doubt he's for real. He has spent a fortune of his own money and there has been a lot of development. The car has two major problems. First it's nearly impossible to do what he's trying but it looks like he finally has a nearly functional one so scam is a mighty strong word. The second issue is the odds are near zero of the FAA approving them anytime in the near future. They can't even get the insurance company to allow them to test it without the tether. From what I gather he's 95% there having a working prototype but they are on the razor edge of loosing it all. Releasing the saucer version was a desperate act to keep the company a float and legitimate. I have serious doubts of the skycar ever being approved for the average citizen. That doesn't make Moller a scam artist it makes him a dreamer. Sadly he may be shooting himself in the foot. All it takes is one moron doing something stupid in one of the saucers and the lawyers will eat his company for lunch. "Gee you didn't specially tell me flying a surface effect vehicle off a clift was a bad idea, give me money." Really it's a hovercraft that can fly 10' instead of 6". Cool but the potential for disaster is high. My fear would be wind flipping one. 10' is still enough head first to kill you.

oil won't like this (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20420901)

Flying cars would be too useful. Firstly we wouldn't have to wait in traffic anymore. Secondly we could travel between two locations "as the crow flies" . This combined would save immense sums on gas consumption. Not to mention the bonus of autopilot navigation systems allowing you to drink while not driving

Re:oil won't like this (1)

b0s0z0ku (752509) | more than 6 years ago | (#20420941)

Keep in mind that cars on the road are fairly stable. Flying cars (aka light aircraft) tend to get blown around, requiring *much* greater separation between vehicles. And at crowded destinations, you'll still need to brave traffic to land. Also, flying in rough weather, autopilot or no, won't be much fun or terribly safe without training. Not saying that flying cars don't have their uses, but I find it hard to believe that they'll even come close to replacing land vehicles.

-b.

Re:oil won't like this (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20421107)

Keep in mind that a horse and cart is fairly stable. Cars have those really loud engines which look like they could explode at any given moment. Not saying that cars don't have their uses, but I find it hard to believe that they'll even come close to replacing the horse and cart.

Re:oil won't like this (1)

jamstar7 (694492) | more than 6 years ago | (#20421249)

Keep in mind that cars on the road are fairly stable. Flying cars (aka light aircraft) tend to get blown around, requiring *much* greater separation between vehicles. And at crowded destinations, you'll still need to brave traffic to land. Also, flying in rough weather, autopilot or no, won't be much fun or terribly safe without training. Not saying that flying cars don't have their uses, but I find it hard to believe that they'll even come close to replacing land vehicles.

A dual-mode car would be the hot ticket, soon as they figure out the power to weight ratios and come up with better propulsion. Fly it in between towns, then land outside of your destination and drive in on the ground. That way you don't get the massive air congestion. Biggest problem I see is, carrying 2 powerplants, air & ground. It's bound to take a performance hit to make it more versatile

For what cars are going for these days ($35K+), I could see a market for this 'Skycar' at 90K. It's still cheaper than a Cessna.

think about the energy... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20421165)

umm...think about the energy needed to keep a 'flying car' at a given altitude. I can't seen the savings in either traffic or straight line navigation equaling or exceeding the energy required to keep this thing aloft. ...but i'm sure big oil will be happy to sell you some jet fuel or whatever energy-dense liquid flying cars will run on.

Re:oil won't like this (1)

zippthorne (748122) | more than 6 years ago | (#20421381)

He claims that it will get roughly 15 mpg using regular unleaded fuel.. at the cruising altitude of 20,000 ft and a speed of 290 mph.

Even assuming he can achieve this, it would still get much worse mileage on a short hop where it never goes above 1000 ft. Why would the oil companies be opposed to this?

Re:oil won't like this (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20421619)

how much fuel does it burn to get up to 20,000 ft? you're getting 0 mpg (miles to your destination, at least) on the way up those ~4 miles. there will be quite some planning in figuring out the most efficient route when you have 3 dimensions (with economy a function of z).

open source routing is struggling with 2D...3D should be interesting.

Re:oil won't like this (1)

Ponzicar (861589) | more than 6 years ago | (#20421463)

Since the article says that they can run on petrol or diesel, I don't think the oil companies would have any problems with this at all. Plus, unless you can offer some numbers, I'm finding it quite hard to believe that powered flight will be more fuel efficient than the average car.

Why aren't these stories ever critical? (4, Informative)

Jeff DeMaagd (2015) | more than 6 years ago | (#20420911)

The Skycar has been in the works for decades with barely anything to show for it. There are too many stories that just talk about the positive future that it supposedly represents when it's been a boondoggle so far. There was even action against Moller by the SEC.

Is it just me, or... (1)

UberDork (235964) | more than 6 years ago | (#20420919)

...does every shot of it hovering have a crane in the background?

Re:Is it just me, or... (1)

ThJ (641955) | more than 6 years ago | (#20420951)

I read somewhere that they do it just in case there's a failure.

Re:Is it just me, or... (1)

mugnyte (203225) | more than 6 years ago | (#20421097)

No failures yet! Money still rolling in. I wonder if the 90k comes with a personal crane. Flies 3m off the ground, in a small circle decided by the crane operator

  Hint: Go to the fair and give them a dollar...You too can ride in the SKYCAR!

Re:Is it just me, or... (1)

indy_Muad'Dib (869913) | more than 6 years ago | (#20420953)

safety line so it doesn't go crashing into the ground and kill the driver if it fails.

that begin said i've seen this in action and it its quite impressive.

not reliable enough to get out of the "nice toy" category and into "useful equipment"

id still like to buy one though for the sheer "wtf is that??" value it gives.

Re:Is it just me, or... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20420961)

According to website, etc, the crane is actually a safety device - ie in case of craft failure the crane keeps the craft from hiting the ground.

Re:Is it just me, or... (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20421015)

> ...does every shot of it hovering have a crane in the background?

It's not just you. It's been everyone who's paid attention to this nut for the past 30 years.

I'd like to see him succeed. He wore out what little credibility he ever had in the 70s. Fancy computers can now make aerodymanically-unstable aerofoils "fly", but they can't solve the problem of power output. The funky fiberglass model shown today is the same fucking thing he's shown since the 80s.

The only reason he's still in business is because the "journalists" who write "science" articles... are neither journalists nor scientists.

"Wanting to see him succeed" is probably why he gets all the free publicity every few years.

If he were a nut, it'd be wonderful. Flying cars would merely be the automotive equivalent of nuclear fusion. Always just A Small Matter of Engineering away from reality.

The sad part of the story is that he's not just a nut, he's a fraud. And the media keeps falling for it, hook, line, sinker, rod, reel, and copy of Angling Times. The only thing more depressing than the notion of him paying them off... would be the notion that he didn't have to. Everyone likes a nut. Everyone wants a flying car. Therefore, everyone wants to see the nut with the flying car make it big. All he has to do is keep finding people who've never heard of him before, and he keep the scam rolling his entire life. And convincing people he's just a nut.

The most bitter irony would be if he really was just a nut. What if he actually believes his own BS?

Definition of the classic comedy: The little clever one, cheats the big stupid/powerful/respectful one.
Definition of the classic tragedy: A noble person has a noble project that turns to shit in his hands.
Definition of the evil comedy: The little stupid one has no projects and eats shit with delight because he can't taste the difference between shit and cake. The noble one hopes in vain.

-Neugamme

Ground effect (1)

anno1602 (320047) | more than 6 years ago | (#20421271)

Moreover, there are no videos of the thing actually rising out of ground effect and flying any distance in vertical flight. So, unless I see more, I think that is all of what this thing is capable: Hovering in ground effect.

hmm (2, Insightful)

thatskinnyguy (1129515) | more than 6 years ago | (#20420937)

If the development of this vehicle is as rapid as that of the automobile or the aircraft, expect to see wide-spread use in another 20 years or so.

Skycar (4, Interesting)

mugnyte (203225) | more than 6 years ago | (#20420945)

Moller's been pushing this nonsense since his first snowmobile engine modifications in the 70's. He has been collecting investment money for decades promising VTOL vehicles to the masses. There's a whole sky full of problems with this. First, getting into the sky is a series of tests and checks and licenses here in the US because, essentially, many people don't really want every Tom Dick and Harry flying over our heads. The skies are a-crowded already, from a management point of view.

  Second, while the technology may be sound and there were doubters to the helicopter and "aeroplane" alike, this design seems a bit more like rocketry than either of the prior two. Ducted or directed fan technology is hugely inefficient compared to wing technology. Coolness aside, there's something of an "experimental" quality of these machines that they cannot seem to shake. If I'm watching YouTube videos of the Moller employees coming and going in these contraptions, then perhaps my doubts will be alleviated, but until then, I keep picturing a screwball in an oversized frisbee darting over the park and eventually plowing into the trees.

Re:Skycar (1)

b0s0z0ku (752509) | more than 6 years ago | (#20420963)

First, getting into the sky is a series of tests and checks and licenses here in the US because, essentially, many people don't really want every Tom Dick and Harry flying over our heads.

For a VFR pilot's ticket, you need around 40 hrs of training. In most states, you're supposed to have 50+ hrs of behind the wheel time under a permit before you get your car license. If the flying cars are sufficiently automated, training requirements may also be relaxed if safety can be proven.

-b.

Re:Skycar (1)

mugnyte (203225) | more than 6 years ago | (#20421141)


  That crane in the background proves it's safety to me. 1 year away from "fly saucers everywhere" and the owner of the company won't take it out for a demo ride? S C A M

Re:Skycar (1)

b0s0z0ku (752509) | more than 6 years ago | (#20420987)

Ducted or directed fan technology is hugely inefficient compared to wing technology.

AFAIK, the fans swivel and are only directed vertically at takeoff. During flight, they're positioned horizontally and the vehicle relies on two sets of wings to stay aloft.

-b.

Re:Skycar (1)

mugnyte (203225) | more than 6 years ago | (#20421051)


  I'm not quite seeing the wings working at speeds under WayWayFast. Realize that the highest investigation of efficiency, maneuverability and speed has gone into combat aircraft, and I simply don't see the Moller Skycar turning in any direction in a small radius. Think of modern fighter jets, where they need control surfaces to pull themselves around turns. Moller needs to push with fans instead.

Even the V-22 Osprey [wikipedia.org] had a long development time, but in the end did not deviate far from either heli or aiplane aerodynamics. Frankly, the fans offer the sexy promise of Harrier-like delicacy in maneuvering (which isn't so delicate), but they'll burn fuel at a rapid rate that demands an auto-landing sequence based on burn rate. So instead of a fireball we'll have slowly-lowering skycars almost out of fuel. Perhaps Moller is planing to create a fleet of fuel trucks to rescue all the hapless pilots that didn't pay attention to the gages!

About time. (1)

sumdumass (711423) | more than 6 years ago | (#20420955)

I have been following this guy for about 7 years or so. I have been waiting for this to come to market. Although the last I heard, the projected price was supposed to be around 60k instead of 30k. I guess they were trying to get it certified to drive without a difficult to get license at one time.

My understanding is that it is relatively good on fuel too. They were talking about it on an Art Bell program years ago when Art actually was on it. I guess fully loaded it get better fuel economy per passenger then a fully loaded bus does per passenger. Or at least that was their target. The skycar is supposed to go higher and faster and was promising to be affordable enough to compete with the cheaper luxury cars. (60-80k)

Re:About time. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20421081)


    Art Bell!? You mean the author of The Quickening? You may want to fact-check everything you learned on that program. You'll be able to forget them all and make room for learning about reality.

Re:About time. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20421503)

It was an interview with this guy. They also interviewed the guy who want to start selling space tourism, build hotels in space and the winner of the X prize.

Not everything on the program is real, after all, it is entertainment. But there are quite a few people who have said they were doing something and have come up with more then a phantom console or duke nukem forever.

This guy has had videos available, has been featured in other programs and has had a working prototype for a while now. My understanding is that the controls for these flying cars aren't much different then a regular car too. The fact that some I head about it first on some conspiracy theory show doesn't mean much.

Re:About time. (1)

sumdumass (711423) | more than 6 years ago | (#20421571)

here [moller.com] is their website. in case you were interested. I guess the discovery channel even covered them a while ago.

Why we don't have flying cars. (1)

zahl2 (821572) | more than 6 years ago | (#20420965)

They don't have brakes.

c.f. to your typical driver on the road: can you imagine the licensing problems? Might as well just stick with planes and autos.

Re:Why we don't have flying cars. (1)

b0s0z0ku (752509) | more than 6 years ago | (#20421047)

They don't have brakes.

Sure they could -- braking can be accomplished by some combination of thrust reversal and speed brakes (basically panels that swing out into the wind). If the craft slows enough to lose lift from the wings or lifting body, the engines should automatically swivel to a "hover" regime.

Actually, the bigger problem is: how many drivers run out of gas on the road today due to inattention? Running out in the air is a larger problem!

-b.

Re:Why we don't have flying cars. (1)

mugnyte (203225) | more than 6 years ago | (#20421279)


Breaks?
  Thrust reversal would reverse the engines or fanblades - not quite possible without a gear and clutch system and would take quite a bit of wear (and time) to activate.
  Airbrakes akin to a reusable parachute only work related to surface area and strength. Not much room on these little things to hide a panel to slow from a 100mph smooth machine.

  Most likely, the machine would try to brake by tilting backwards and splitting the downward thrust with backward. However, this means switching to hover mode quickly, not really possible without something to throw the engines hard and fast, which would add weight to the control motors. In all, its a balance of capabilities that makes the lightest resolution equal to "no brakes".

  I believe Moller hired a few guys and did a a few week's worth of calculations and came up with a fitting design, modeled it and found out that certain behaviors were severely sacrificed - years ago. Since then, he's been forgetting to mention those concepts and simply built larger models. One crane and insurance policy later, you're on every "beyond the future" TV spot for years and years. Boring.

Re:Why we don't have flying cars. (1)

edwardpickman (965122) | more than 6 years ago | (#20421541)

They don't have brakes.

Sure they do. We call them walls.

Not ready for our roads (1)

ziggyboy (232080) | more than 6 years ago | (#20420967)

The only issue I foresee would be allowing the average mom and pop trying to hover around houses, buildings even at only 10 feet without any piloting experience. Surely you wouldn't want to have 2 layers of traffic on a set of lights (one on the ground and one hovering above the "normal" traffic below). Imagine what would happen in the event of an engine failure. Maybe recalibrating the dilithium matrix would work?

Re:Not ready for our roads (1)

ziggyboy (232080) | more than 6 years ago | (#20420993)

Also, I wonder how many turn signal directions will be available? 8 perhaps. Up, down, left, right, top-left, top-right, bottom-left and bottom-right.

Re:Not ready for our roads (1)

mugnyte (203225) | more than 6 years ago | (#20421111)


  add in a few more degrees of freedom, dude. Like a sphere's worth of lights.

Re:Not ready for our roads (1)

ArcherB (796902) | more than 6 years ago | (#20421011)

Surely you wouldn't want to have 2 layers of traffic on a set of lights (one on the ground and one hovering above the "normal" traffic below)

Well, I could imagine something like East/West traffic travels on the ground while the North/South traffic travels in the air. This could eliminate traffic lights, stop signs, the works! However, it does add a new dimension to making a right turn.

Re:Not ready for our roads (1)

SanityInAnarchy (655584) | more than 6 years ago | (#20421033)

Not so much, I think. You'd just land or start hovering before you make the turn. Worst case, you leave the traffic lights, and stop traffic when someone wants to turn -- which is a lot better than stopping it just to allow through traffic going the other way.

Re:Not ready for our roads (1)

ArcherB (796902) | more than 6 years ago | (#20421133)

Not so much, I think. You'd just land or start hovering before you make the turn. Worst case, you leave the traffic lights, and stop traffic when someone wants to turn -- which is a lot better than stopping it just to allow through traffic going the other way.

I was thinking something more along the lines of:
Left Turn, 20 Feet
Right Turn Ground level
North/South 30 Feet
East/West 10 Feet.

Who knows. I don't think it's going to be anything we have to worry about for years. Besides, where are you going to turn if we do away with roads?

Infrastructure? Safety? Economy? (4, Interesting)

ArcherB (796902) | more than 6 years ago | (#20420977)

The only way I could see this working is if they work out a few infrastructure challenges. For starters, the article mentions that you won't be able to fly one over 10 feet without a pilot's license. 10 Feet won't get you over some pickups, much less off the highways. Next, how do you work out right of way, parking and so on. These are challenges that will be difficult to overcome even IF flying cars were readily available.

Next is safety. While cars have been pretty focused on protecting their occupants, this takes that to a whole new dimension. A stall is no longer just an inconvenience, but a high probability that you are going to die. What about the people on the ground that you crash into? How many car wrecks are there in an average size city. Now imaging that for each of these wrecks, you have a heavy, flammable piece of metal, glass and plastic falling to the ground! It would seem to me that the only way to make these things remotely safe would be to equip them not only with a parachute, but with airbags on the outside to protect those that are going to be in their homes beneath these things!

Economy. With all the current focus on global warming, dwindling oil supplies, wars in the middle east etc, I don't see how flying cars will help alleviate any of these problems. As a matter of fact, I see the exact opposite happening! Could you imagine what would happen to the demand for energy if half the auto's on the road were not flying over it!

Of course, these issues are just a few issues that my ignorant-ass can come up with in a few minutes. I'm sure that there are problems that real life engineers haven't even dreamed of yet! So I'm afraid that building a flying car will be the easy part.

Re:Infrastructure? Safety? Economy? (1)

Nefarious Wheel (628136) | more than 6 years ago | (#20421065)

I'd be more interested in the problem being solved by a new technical approach rather than by an application of brute-foce technology we already have mostly sussed out (except for the control systems, but that's just micro-SCADA to be worked out). Anyone have a take on Drexler's (I think it was Drexler's) "fan cloth" idea? Wings don't have to be solid lumps in cross section in order to provide lift. Bazillions of nano-sized engines that capture individual air molecules at random vectors and send them downward in a single direction to provide a pressure differential & thus thrust. Interesting stuff, I wonder if it would be workable.

Re:Infrastructure? Safety? Economy? (2, Insightful)

Vampyre_Dark (630787) | more than 6 years ago | (#20421217)

Exactly. Who wants to think that at any second, some flying car could come falling out of the sky and landing directly on you? It would make a small crater.

Until we have flying buildings, we don't need flying cars to get where we are going.

Where Is My Flying Car? (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | more than 6 years ago | (#20421239)

These issues have been addressed in other forums. You touch on a few of the actual reasons we have not seen flying cars yet.

First, though, I would like to mention the economy issue. If this were a standard winged vehicle, many commuters would actually see a significant decrease in fuel use and cost, because of the more straight-line nature of the commute, and the fact that it takes much less time. But this is not a standard winged vehicle, and so it can probably be expected to get dismal gas mileage.

As for the other major issues: In fact, the reason most people do not commute by air today (other than fuel) is lack of infrastructure. If the vehicles are going to be safe for the average user, then they will have to be equipped with automatic safety and routing systems. Driving, in the usual sense of the term, is out of the question. There would be so many collisions that it would be sheer mayhem. Automatics are the only answer.

Having said that... where are the automatics? The control and positioning systems would have to be very widespread, and must be able to switch from one tower to another in an instant without appreciable lag time. There would also have to be considerable computing power devoted to each vehicle on a continuous basis.

Until recently, such a system we unheard of. But we have one now: the cellular phone network. The infrastructure for flying commuters would not be exactly the same as a cellular network of course, but at least we now have a good model. And only now... it did not exist before. And without that, there would never be widespread commuting by air.

Re:Where Is My Flying Car? (1)

jcr (53032) | more than 6 years ago | (#20421509)

this is not a standard winged vehicle, and so it can probably be expected to get dismal gas mileage.

Which is offset by 1) being far lighter than a ground car, 2) being able to go point-to-point, instead of having to stay on paved roads, 3) spending far less time in transit, and 4) the savings in road-building costs.

-jcr

Re:Where Is My Flying Car? (1)

JonathanR (852748) | more than 6 years ago | (#20421617)

2) being able to go point-to-point
Do you really think this thing will be able to go point to point? Can you imagine all the dust, debris and crap blown around as the thing hovers and parks... ...where, exactly?

This thing is the antithesis of a street sweeper.

Re:Infrastructure? Safety? Economy? (1)

westyx (95706) | more than 6 years ago | (#20421511)

It'll boost the economy, what with all the Anti Moller Skycar devices being sold (aka SAMs)

Personal Airships, M'boy... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20421023)

See to it, Frank, see to it....

All I need now is... (1)

Uno Due Tre (1150029) | more than 6 years ago | (#20421091)

...some cheap alien costumes and a few friends. It is going to be awesome cruising lonely country roads looking for gullible tourists. The National Enquirer headline - "4 Martians Mooned Me".

Re:All I need now is... (1)

Ginsu2000 (556427) | more than 6 years ago | (#20421231)

Love the ambitious direction Moller have taken with this. I am excited that so many advancements in automation and control, miniturisation, materials etc. are bringing the Skycar so close to reality. Personally, I'm not that interested in the saucer - it was a logical engine test bed for the time - but the skycar is great. The model for X-plane works great. Try it out! It's free but you will have to sign up http://www.x-plane.org./ [www.x-plane.org] Some discussion going back to 2004 can be found here http://forums.x-plane.org/lofiversion/index.php?t9 966.html [x-plane.org] .

Re:All I need now is... (1)

jimmydevice (699057) | more than 6 years ago | (#20421431)

Ginsu2000 Your name pretty much defines Moller's little scam. The Ginsu knives sold on TV since the 80's were over-hyped, cheap and failed to deliver on any promise. The company eventually went broke a few years ago. One thing ginsu had over Moller was that they actually shipped a product. Someone should step up and offer a prize for "working" flying car, I'm pretty sure Moller won't even try to compete. I've been watching Moller since 1993. A co-worker purchased a "informational packet" with exactly the same information and vehicles he is shilling today.

WRONG PICTURE! (2, Informative)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | more than 6 years ago | (#20421095)

There is nothing new about this except the proposed release date... this item has been in widely-advertised development for many years. Further, the picture accompanying the article is not of the Flying Saucer. That is a picture of the Sky Car. That one is not being released yet (and may never be).

Noise, fuel, infrastructure (1)

Meterman (622546) | more than 6 years ago | (#20421149)

Too much, too much, too little.
A few flying cars buzzing overhead will cause significant outcry in many communities. Unless it can get bladerunner quiet, it's not gonna happen in large scale.
Fuel, ahhh ah ha ha. Unless you are travelling far, good luck with that being econimical. Of course if your a CEO, who cares!.
Infrastructure, where do you park it?

Does it come with... (1)

istartedi (132515) | more than 6 years ago | (#20421199)

...hot alien babes?

...a cup holder?

...a flying cup?

...tea?

...an application for a Darwin award?

Someone enlighten me please (3, Insightful)

clarkkent09 (1104833) | more than 6 years ago | (#20421253)

What good is hovering 10ft above the ground, except for fun. How do you get from home to work in this thing?

Surely you can't fly over people's backyards so you'll have to follow the roads. 10ft is too low to get you over trucks so you won't be able to fly over the traffic easily, so you'll just have to follow the traffic like in a car except for the temptation to skip over low cars and cut across corners etc. while avoiding the power lines, overpasses etc.

No way will this thing ever be legal unless the whole infrastructure and traffic laws are changed to accommodate which ain't gonna happen either. So, what good is it?

Re:Someone enlighten me please (1)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 6 years ago | (#20421437)

Surely you can't fly over people's backyards

      Why not?

10ft is too low to get you over trucks

      But you can maneuver around them.

      And perhaps you could argue that you fly at 10 ft, and occasionally move up to 20-30ft to avoid traffic...

Re:Someone enlighten me please (1)

jcr (53032) | more than 6 years ago | (#20421525)

Why not?

Because flying at 100 feet over someone's house is already a violation of FAA rules in most areas.

-jcr

Re:Someone enlighten me please (1)

clarkkent09 (1104833) | more than 6 years ago | (#20421579)

Surely you can't fly over people's backyards

Why not?


Are you kidding? Flying barely over peoples heads with 8 powerful and noisy propellers, scaring the shit out of old ladies. Beside, there is a small matter of property rights to consider. IANAL but I believe, in the US at least, the house owner also owns the air above their property with some special exceptions made for air travel (waaaay higher than 10ft). Also, what about noise pollution, liability issues etc.

10ft is too low to get you over trucks

But you can maneuver around them.


Possible, but not really practical given that the current infrastructure is not designed for something like this, what with all the light poles, traffic lights hanging above the intersections, low bridges and overpasses etc. We are talking pod racer skills, not your average commuter.

Also, the hysterical laughter by the insurance agent upon hearing exactly what you are trying to insure might offend some people.

Re:Someone enlighten me please (1)

wikinerd (809585) | more than 6 years ago | (#20421577)

How do you get from home to work in this thing?

It really strikes me odd that people in the 21st century seek new ways to get from home to work when in the majority of cases (at least in the IT) they can simply get the work to their home. Even heard of telework?

History repeats itself.. (5, Interesting)

aero2600-5 (797736) | more than 6 years ago | (#20421269)

While I agree with all the skeptics, having read about this same damn car years ago, some of the skepticism is unfounded.

Moller may never produce a 'flying car', but someone will eventually.

When that flying car hits the market, it will likely be little different than when the first automobiles we're being sold. There were no parking spots in front of the general store, only places to tie up your horse. As more of these are sold, more spots to park them will become available. More gasoline/diesel stations will accommodate them as well. It will be slow. There won't be any real regulation of them for a while, but that won't stop people from using them. And these will likely be flying deathtraps for a while. So was the car for the first two decades of it's life. Same for the train when we started laying tracks everywhere we could find a place for them but couldn't design brakes worth a shit. As dangerous as these flying cars may be, people will fly them.

If I could afford one, I would buy it to fly it to work everyday. It would be easy for me; I'd just follow the river. The first automobiles were not utilities, they were novelties, just like the flying car will be when someone eventually manages to start selling them.

Aero

Finally!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20421341)

step 1: buy flying car
step 2: marry Jane
step 3: father two children named Judy and Elroy

This is the aviation world's "Duke Nukem Forever" (1)

popo (107611) | more than 6 years ago | (#20421365)

This company is all about raising successive rounds of venture capital. Where are the demonstrations of the thing WORKING (as in flying in complex, controlled and safe maneuvers)? What a joke these guys are.

what a waste of space! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20421369)

what a waste of space this guy is... a poster above tried to say fuel efficiency per person better than a bus full of people !!!

lol - last time i saw it took 2 400hp engines to get off the ground... power doesnt come for nothing so clearly this will be as fuel efficient as the shuttle taking off...

so in a world where resources are becoming scarce everyone who can afford it should buy a flying car which requires 600hp to travel along and takes 2 real time pc systems to try and keep it level... or you could ride a 10kg bike and take a train.

Flying car in three easy steps (1)

bobdotorg (598873) | more than 6 years ago | (#20421469)

Not sure if it's VTOL, but...

Step one: permanently affix chair to car. Any car will do.

Step two: place conspicuously in Ballmer's office just before an Apple media event.

Step three: there is no step three!

Moller (0, Troll)

Alioth (221270) | more than 6 years ago | (#20421489)

Moller's been expecting to build the Skycar (volantor as he calls it) "in six years time" for the last 30 years. Don't believe him. None of his aircraft have managed an untethered flight outside of ground effect - every so often he pumps up some publicity, presumably to get new funding after the last lot of venture capitalists see that he's going nowhere.

In other news... (2, Interesting)

Derek Loev (1050412) | more than 6 years ago | (#20421507)

I'm not holding my breath for this one, I learned my lesson from The Phantom [wikipedia.org] .

Too dangerous 4 me (0, Troll)

heroine (1220) | more than 6 years ago | (#20421519)

Saw his flying saucer demo from the 70's that everyone else has seen. That thing is so unstable, has so many moving parts, it looks like it would flip over or malfunction at any minute. Sticking to the good old fashioned helicopter.

Supplimental life insurance not included (1)

heroine (1220) | more than 6 years ago | (#20421589)

One 70's video of this one is on http://www.moller.com/videom200x.htm [moller.com]

B sure 2 have a helicopter ready to rescue the pilot after he crashes.

This horse has been beaten to death! (1)

konohitowa (220547) | more than 6 years ago | (#20421535)

Is Cowboy Neal really this freaking gullible? I mean - I'll give the BBC a pass because, hey - they're journalists. Judging by most of the "technical" stories I read by journalists, I've come to the conclusion that the bulk of them would be hard pressed to explain how to tie a knot, let alone understand something even mildly technical.

But you'd at least expect someone editing for a self proclaimed nerd site would be a bit more savvy than this. The first thing I did was tag the thing !news scam. I seem to recall this guy hawking his wares in Popular Science and Popular Mechanics back in the early to mid 70's. You'd be better off taking a helicopter and adding a flight control computer to it that translated traditional steering wheel inputs [with the forward/aft motions of an airplane yoke] into cyclic, collective, and rotor pedal inputs. Granted, helicopter maintenance is obnoxiously expensive, but it sure as hell doesn't take that kind of horsepower to keep one aloft [although hovering outside of ground effect takes a fair amount of power].

Now. If he developed an engine for it that ran on water, that would be another matter entirely.

Kevin Smith says Its about time! (1)

emkman (467368) | more than 6 years ago | (#20421573)

A short commissioned by Jay Leno, Dante and Randal were demanding a flying car [viewaskew.com] in 2002. Watch this if you've never seen it.

what's up with all those cranes? (1)

serbanp (139486) | more than 6 years ago | (#20421625)

Is this thing taking off for real or it's just a scam (i.e. tied up by a thin cable to the out-of-picture crane)?

It's Christmas in July!!! (1)

iminplaya (723125) | more than 6 years ago | (#20421627)

at the Watertown Strip Mall

So get yours before they're all gone!

The russians are working on one too (1)

Eukariote (881204) | more than 6 years ago | (#20421671)

Below is a link to a video of a Russian production facility that asserts to show a flying saucer design to be commercialized soon http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gjBiy2nikBI [youtube.com] . Not your usual blurry UFO video...
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