August 31, 2004

IS THERE ROOM FOR YOUR DOG, ASTRO?:

Flying cars nearly ready for take-off (DUNCAN FORGAN, 8/31/04, The Scotsman)

WE ALREADY have amphibious cars that can take us over land and sea and jet packs that allow us to take off like a spaceman.

Now some of the world’s leading engineers are trying to advance the technology of travel further by developing cars that can fly.

The new vehicles are seen as becoming necessary, with motorways growing more clogged, and commuters prepared to travel further.

California-based company Moller International has built a prototype of its Skycar. The streamlined vehicle - think sports car meets the hovercraft Luke Skywalker drove in Star Wars - is designed to make vertical take-offs, fly around 700 miles and drive short distances.

Jack Allison, who retired as a vice-president at Moller but still works there, said Skycars were expected to start at about $1 million and require pilot’s training.

It’s not clear when they’ll be available, but Mr Allison says more than 100 people have put down a $5,000 deposit.

Major corporations are trying to take the concept on to the mass maket.


MORE:
A Flying Leap for CarsM (Olga Kharif, 8/25/04, Business Week)

Posted by Orrin Judd at August 31, 2004 4:06 PM
Comments

Well, it's about time. We've been promised this from at least the 1950's, but the best the wiz-bang boys can do is the Seque.

Posted by: Twn at August 31, 2004 4:51 PM

Um, I think I'd prefer a car that, if something went wrong, DIDN'T plummet hundreds of feet and crash through someone's roof. That's the sort I have now, at least.

Posted by: Just John at August 31, 2004 5:08 PM

This turkey is trotted out every so often like clockwork. Its developer won't let it fly except on a tether, because he can't afford to build another one if the prototype crashes.

The wild turkeys in my front yard fly farther and better...

Posted by: M. Murcek at August 31, 2004 5:27 PM

The idea of flying cars makes me rather nervous.

Most drivers are barely competent in a two-dimensional world with simplified physics (i.e., pushing the gas pedal down further means going faster, pushing the brake pedal slows the car down, turning the wheel turns the car, no hysteresis effects). A three-dimensional world that includes aerodynamics, uncertain braking, rather more complicated steering, altitude management and a wealth of hysteresis effects would challenge the average driver well beyond his limits.

Could he adapt to it, given time? I'm not sure. I think the "skyway" would have to become one huge control zone, and air traffic controllers given enormous authority over who "drives" at what altitudes, headings and speeds, and when a "car" can ascend or descend.

Thoughts?

Posted by: Francis W. Porretto at August 31, 2004 5:28 PM

How would you stop to ask for directions or let the kids go to the bathroom?

Posted by: Peter B at August 31, 2004 5:37 PM

Peter:

No one would let women drive them and men don't ask for directions or stop for the kids.


M.:

We had 12 in our neighborhood today. Turkeys, not flying cars.

Posted by: oj at August 31, 2004 5:49 PM

Orrin:

OK, then how would you cruise for chicks?

Posted by: Peter B at August 31, 2004 6:35 PM

Peter:

It's the future--we'll all be gay, or dating Astro.

Posted by: oj at August 31, 2004 6:42 PM

If you have faith, it'll fly

Posted by: Harry Eagar at August 31, 2004 7:52 PM

My main concern would be the anti-globalist protestors trying to take down the poles supporting the Spacely Sprockets corporate headquarters, while the environmentalists file lawsuits in the Ninth Circuit over the threat to endangered birds caused by all those flying cars.

Posted by: John at August 31, 2004 7:55 PM

>How would you stop to ask for directions or let
>the kids go to the bathroom?

Navigation systems and a hatch in the floor.

BOMBS AWAY!

Posted by: Ken at August 31, 2004 8:28 PM

The other reason that this wouldn't work is that traffic ALWAYS expands to fill the space it is given (in a crowded area anyway, like a city). So.. you allow cars into the air.. and, bam, you have a totally congested sky, pollution everywhere, and no view for anyone on the ground! :-)

Posted by: The Grammarian at September 6, 2004 11:31 PM
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