Thursday, October 9, 2014

Someone Tell Sisko They're Here...

(A million nerd bonus points if you get the references in the title...)

Finally! The flying car that really could be coming to a road (and sky) near you
It has been a sci-fi dream for decades - a car that can simply take to the air to avoid traffic.

However, a Slovakian firm has said it has finally cracked the problem.

The AeroMobil can fly 430 miles on a tank of petrol - and when its wings fold down, it'll fit into a normal parking space.
Here's what it looks like as a car:

And as a plane:

Now, there's a few things going on here. First off, I dunno if I'd be willing to bet my life on an airplane out of Slovakia. No offense to our Slovak friends, but it's not exactly an area known for innovation in aviation. Or engineering. Or automobiles, for that matter. This is something that I am going to literally bet my life on - once it's up in the air, you're betting that the folks that put it together knew what they were doing. When your Chevy throws a tie rod, you limp to the side of the road and wait for AAA. When this thing slips a cog, you look for something comfy to land on, and start saying your rosaries.

There's also a whole host of secondary questions. Would you have to drive to an airport and then get admitted to the airfield? How is that going to work? It would be pretty sweet to drive to Dulles, fly to Manchester, and then drive to the Northeast Bloggershoot, rather than drive the whole way, especially since the AeroMobil can travel 124 MPH in a straight line, meaning the whole trip could be made in four hours. Of course, the range is 430 miles, meaning I'd still have to stop somewhere along the way, like Hartford. Still WAY better than the NJ Turnpike...

I also wonder how GPS would work, even if it would, at the altitude the AeroMobil will be flying Actually, that's another question - what altitude will it be flying at? Allegedly it is going to require a pilot's license - not sure I disagree with this, mind you; I see enough idiocy on the roadways on a daily basis, I don't want them going over my house. Now, granted, there's no word on price, and I'll wager this is a "if you have to ask, you can't afford it" deal.

Here's another question to think about: What happens when someone piloting this decides it would be funny to take off on a long, empty stretch of road? Now, I will readily admit I know nothing about flying/tracking/etc. but what I'm wondering is, take an open, empty area like, say, sections of CO. Fly into Denver, then drive out to a location several hours' drive away. Get 20 miles away from the airport, then crank it up, take flight when no one's looking, and land somewhere close to their destination. Will radar/tracking be sufficient to catch folks doing this?

Sure looks and sounds like a lot of fun for an amateur pilot...

That is all.


libertyman said...

Like the old DKW(?) combination of car and boat, you get a lousy car and a lousy boat. I think this will be along the same lines.
Looks nice though!

Sean D Sorrentino said...

I shake my head every time I see the "flying car" idea rear its stupid ugly head. Flying cars are basically impossible.

In order to have a flying car, one must build a car that's light enough to fly, strong enough to withstand crash testing, and cheap enough that someone of normal means can afford it. Cheap, strong, light - Pick any two.

Training someone to fly a plane is trivially easy. You'd be amazed at how easy it is to learn. In most ways it's easier than driving. There's far less to run into up there, even if everyone and their brother could fly. The real problem is the economics of it all. A car is a very strong mobile roll cage that you will dispose of in a few years. An airplane is an extremely light people tank attached to wings and an engine that will likely last more than 30 years. A brand new Cessna 172 runs upwards of $275K. A good used one that's 30-35 years old can be had for the price of a BMW. Now how many people who have the money to buy a BMW are going to be satisfied with a 30 year old one?

The economics of it are all wrong. If you want to fly, get a pilot's license and rent a plane at your local FBO. It's cheaper, and someone else will handle the maintenance.

PhilaBOR said...

I'm waiting for the anti-gravity one.

Anonymous said...

I would not be worried about who built it. I would worry about who is flying it. Take the average driver who cannot deal with speed and distance, then add in altitude and wind. Scary, scary thoughts.

Dave H said...

GPS should work for altitude as well as position, at least at the altitudes that thing is going to be flying. Although GPS isn't really a good choice for navigating an airplane. It's too easily interfered with.

Does anybody else think that photo looks like a 3D rendering? I've seen lots of product announcements that were created by someone whose only qualification was that he downloaded Daz 3D.

Anonymous said...

It's an Air-Yugo.

It removes stupid genes from the gene pool faster than ever.

Joseph in IL

zeeke42 said...

" Fly into Denver, then drive out to a location several hours' drive away. Get 20 miles away from the airport, then crank it up, take flight when no one's looking, and land somewhere close to their destination. Will radar/tracking be sufficient to catch folks doing this?"

Why do you need to catch them? What have they done wrong?

Evyl Robot Michael said...

If you want to see how commonizing flight in culture would work, Alaska might make a pretty good model to look to. And yes, I've often mused about the possibility of flying directly to the farm. Shoot, I've talked to AE Pilot Jim about the challenges of putting in a private air strip at my family farm.

Anonymous said...

The Slovaks are very good engineers; they were half of Czechoslovakia where the Bren gun (BR from Brno, EN from Enfield where the Brits built them) was invented. The Czechoslovakians also built very good medium tank chassis throughout the war for the Nazis.

As one of the above commenters said if it's light enough to fly it won't pass any crash tests. Also if you think your fellow drivers are terrible in two dimensions, imagine how dangerous they'll be with a third one.


Matthew said...

"After losing the two previous vehicles we had been issued, the only car the department was willing to release to us at this point was an unmarked 1987 Yugo, a Yugoslavian import donated to the department as a test vehicle by the government of that country and reflecting the cutting edge of Serbo-Croatian technology."

Ratus said...

@Dave H:It's called "visualization" and it was probably C4d, not daz studio.

@JayG DS9 reference?

Oakenheart said...

This is probably a better idea, at least it can legally be tagged as a motorcycle in the U.S. Still quite costly though!

Raptor said...

Deep Space 9?

Jay G said...


Great work with the Dragnet quote!


Sort of. Avery Brooks - who played Benjamin Sisko in DS9 - made a commercial for one of the credit card companies or banks in 2000 which featured the lines "Where are the flying cars? I was *promised* flying cars".

RCCJr said...

It's not like the Slovakian is the only one. Right here in the USA, I think they are projecting around 80k, homebuilt so you can do your own maintenance. As someone else said, legally it's a flying motorcycle to get around the crash proofing requirements.

Jim said...

On the GPS, Garmin makes not only the aircraft rated units, featuring aviation charts and sectionals (vs. road GPS, with highways n' the like)... but they also make an entire suite of aircraft "glass cockpit" units.

Want to spend six figures on your airplane's instrument panel? No problem, a Garmin suite, plus nav and comm radios, you're busting $150k, right out of the gate.

And that doesn't count the cost of the airplane itself. That's just to outfit the panel with some state of the art equipment.

Yes, there are $30k Cessna 172s buzzing around out there with $80k instrument panels installed. Even more when you get into higher performance planes such as Bonanzas, Mooneys and then up into the various twins.

It's the Yachting idiom: "If you have to ask, you can't afford" Squared.

Sunk New Dawn
Galveston, TX

Anonymous said...

OK. So I had to go on their website and check out the specs/actual pictures of this thing.

They do exist. Not sure how the engine operates in car mode (hopefully, it disengages the prop.)

But the numbers are kinda wimpy.

At 992 pounds, it is very light. At 29.4 mpg, it is lackluster.

Joseph in IL

bob r said...

"Will radar/tracking be sufficient to catch folks doing this?"

Your MA heritage is showing. You really need to work on that living in free* America thing.

* Such as it is. Which isn't very.

Daddy Hawk said...

To answer the tracking question, it depends. Distance from the radar is a factor. But, the bigger issue is ID. Unless you squack a transponder code that is assigned to you by ATC, you only appear as a blip with course and speed info on a screen.

Dregan said...

Sisko is still more concerned with the software...