You may soon be able to think of the possibility (if not plan as yet) of going to office maybe a hundred to 150km away in 10 to 15 minutes. The keyword here is 'think' and not 'dream' because if automobile engineers are to be believed, flying cars may soon become a reality.
One may then, like the members of the Jetsons family, hop into a tiny Jetson-like vehicle and zoom through the skies to land at your office, shopping mall or wherever you want.
Consider this - you are stuck in a traffic jam and want to get home fast, which most of us want to do in any case. The flying car is very well designed to do that. It can elevate and move out from the jammed area.
US-based Moller International has been designing a flying car, called 'Autovolantor', based on a Ferrari 599 GTB model that costs £200,000. The company says the flying car would be in the market in just two years.
According to Bruce Calkins, the chief designer of the car at Moller, the flying car will have the ability to take off vertically and hover in the air powered by eight powerful thrusters which push air down for take off. The vents then tilt back so the car can fly forward. The flying car is expected to be able to attain a speed of 100 mph (150 km/hr) on the ground and 150 mph (200 km/hr) in the air. It can run for 75 miles (130) in the air while on the ground it can run for 150 miles (200kms).
Moller says the flying car features a specially designed hybrid fuel and electric system to power the thrusters, creating as much as 800 brake horse power, and it would be able to cruise at altitudes of up to 5,000 ft.
Calkins says the Autovolantor is powered by eight fans mounted in the fuselage of the vehicle. On the ground these fans push the vehicle around with a firm but not-too-powerful thrust of deflected air. Small vanes in the exit area of the ducts can direct the air forward or back, or remain in the neutral position for vertical take off and landing.
"Once in the air the vehicle manoeuvres like a helicopter, tilting nose down to move forward, rolling right or left for changes in direction. While maximum altitude could be much higher, the energy to obtain altitudes above 5,000 ft would be significant and so we expect it to stay below that height," Calkins is reported to have said.
Of course the flying around won't come cheap. While the GTB Ferrari comes for £200,000 which added to the development cost of the flying car hikes the final cost to a pricey £500,000 (Rs 3.5 crore). The company is however, hoping that the vehicle's ability to "quick hop' out of traffic' could attract the backing to fund the project.
Mollers is not the only company designing a flying car. There are a number of companies with similar projects on the drawing board. Notable amongst these are the X-Hawk flying car, a revolutionary, FAA certifiable urban aerial aircraft, under development by Urban Aeronautics agency of Israel.
It is an aircraft that has the VTOL (Vertical-Take-Off and Landing) capability of a helicopter, but without the exposed rotors that make it dangerous or impossible for helicopters to maneuver in complex urban and natural environments.
The first prototype should be ready in 2009. The Israeli flying car is configured as a tandem-fan, turbine powered vehicle. The pilot will use a "fly-by-wire" multi-channel flight control system as well as an automatic stabilization feature to help control the aircraft and maintain level flight. The ducted fan design allows the car to achieve the speed and maneuverability of a helicopter: 155 mph, 12,000-foot altitude and two hours of flight time.
Moller International has been experimenting with such cars for decades now. In 1989 it came up with a JetsonThe Jetsons -like M200X 2-passenger VTOL prototype which is now on auction on ebay. Although it's not commercially operable the M200X has completed over 200 manned and unmanned flighthttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flight demonstrations since 1989.
The M200X showcases a new type of engine and artificial stability system controlled by a central electronic computer and sensor module. Hailed as the first personal volantor vehicle capable of being flown by someone with virtually no pilot http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PILOT training, the M200X is described as "very easy to fly, totally free of vibration", giving those who flew it "a true magic carpet ride sensation".
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