[FoRK] Where the F&@# is my flying car?

Eugen Leitl < eugen at leitl.org > on > Mon Sep 11 06:50:15 PDT 2006

On Mon, Sep 11, 2006 at 08:23:02AM -0400, Stephen D. Williams wrote:

> There are two levels of "possible": scientifically/engineering possible 
> and commercially viability.  There are many things that are 
> scientifically possible that are not yet commercially viable.  The 
> reason that everyone keeps predicting the flying car is because it has 
> been perfectly scientifically possible and engineerable for a long 

Stabilizing a personal VTOL aircraft in a cluttered urban
environment is a control nightmare. Letting people fly is just
not an option. Building such an advanced controller in a cheap
enough package reliable enough to be insured is the reason
personal aircraft hasn't been happening yet.

Otoh, UAV environment is principally simpler than a car's, so
we will see progress there earlier.

> time.  They have been built, tested, and actually put on the market.  
> They just aren't commercially viable compared to normal planes and other 
> forms of transportation.

What's also a problem is fuel use and range. VTOL takes far larger
amount of fuel than gliding by aerofoil. Increasing range will require
heavier aircraft, which will need even more fuel. Of course, 500-600 km
range might be enough...
> BTW, Look into "Light Sport Aircraft" and an FAA "Sport Pilot License".  
> You can get the latter in a week and the former for something like the 
> cost of a sports car, some with over 700 mile range.  This is a huge 
> revolution potentially on both sides (although the Sport license has 
> many practical limits; you really want a Private Pilot with Instrument 
> Rating).  There are suddenly many manufacturers of Light Sport Aircraft 
> innovating on cost, performance, and avionics.  Several Czech companies 
> seem to be very popular right now.  It is entirely possible that a 
> "flying car" might now evolve from one of these, although it is likely 
> that the multi-engine barrier would need to be crossed which would 
> necessitate something like "simplified multi-engine light sport aircraft".

Two words: takeoff strip. That completely nixes the idea. For 98% 
of all users, you absolutely, positively need a VTOL. And can you
imagine how compatible flock-guidance and collision radar (TOF UWB) 
is with conventional human-guided aircraft? With suddenly obsolete 
concepts like traffic corridors?

I don't like surveillance UAVs one bit, but it's good that they're
testing the waters of human/machine airspace interoperability. 
And they're light enough to not produce major mayhem when crashing.
Eugen* Leitl <a href="http://leitl.org">leitl</a> http://leitl.org
ICBM: 48.07100, 11.36820            http://www.ativel.com
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