When the Wright brothers made the first powered flight in 1903, they inaugurated basic principles that survive to this day, including thin wings for lift and a vertically mounted propeller to provide forward thrust. But two centuries earlier, Swedish inventor Emanuel Swedenborg had already dreamed up a flying-saucer-shaped aircraft. Countless designers around the world have since envisioned round planes.
Because of their shape, circular aircraft can theoretically move anywhere—up, down, and side to side—without needing to point in that direction. This provides the potential for highly attractive vertical-takeoff-and-landing (VTOL) or short-takeoff-and-landing (STOL) capabilities, the latter of which permits the use of a far shorter runway than is needed by conventional craft of the same size. Armed forces worldwide are especially interested in VTOL and STOL airplanes because they can lift off from cramped aircraft-carrier decks or almost any flat surface in remote locations where runways are not available. Round aircraft are also advantageous in principle because they could fly faster than the other notable VTOL aircraft, helicopters, and their thin shapes are potentially far less detectable by radar, making them ideal for covert reconnaissance missions. Not to mention, the concept is just plain cool.
1) Fuel consumption?
Those are the first three questions that jump into my head as potential kill points to this being anything other than a pricy toy.
Also, while they are remove the every present flying car safty/training issue by staying under 10', how long would it take for a software mod to be on everyone's to remove or raise the ceiling?
If the range was car equivalent, lift at least 400lbs per passanger (Americans are fat and like to carry stuff), got at least 10mpg, AND could extend the ceiling to top the treeline for a GPS directed "as the crow flies" route, THEN it would be commercially viable. Until then, us norms will always be out of the loop.
Also, any flying car is a deathmobile in a major vertical built city.
im pretty sure that they thought of that(europeans are douches anyways). and if they were 400lbs im pretty sure the fact that they would need some kind of stair system would deter those people to get one in the future. and thats why GPS would help guide someone through the maze of buildings and the speed limit in the sky would be well below the 75 that it can reach. jeez
I have always thought that the idea of a flying car is cool but impractical. We have enough trouble navigating in 2 dimensions without incident. I can only imagine what adding a 3rd dimension will do to traffic problems.
Although being able to take advantage of a 3rd dimension allows us to put more distance between vehicles, so perhaps it evens out?
exactly, like the jetsons, people flying at different altitudes and in basic patterns like we drive today.
I believe that if there is going to be a flying vehicle for public use, that it should almost always be automated, and that the human element is mostly taken out of the actual driving process. Given that the speeds and routes will be determined by humans. However in "safe" areas, I believe having full control of steering would be very entertaining to say the least. By safe I mean, no population below, and very low air traffic, as to provide ample room for any screw up... One more thing to say and I'm done... I'd also love to see the day that flying vehicles (much like this one) are able to race at high speeds.
I totally agree. It's dangerous for us, regular people, to drive cars under normal circumstances, let alone fly them. So the safety issue u=is utterly important.
Nevertheless, technologies like TCAS (Traffic Collision Avoidance System) could prove very useful in such circumstances. Finally, it's up to the manufacturers, clients and Aviation Authorities to regulate these matters.
The idea is brilliant and i hope to see flying saucers fill the skies rather than see cars filling streets.
As for the fun part, as we in aviation say, "the sky is the limit!"
I hate to burst anyone's bubble, but self driving cars are farther away than flying cars, as proof by this article.
To design and sell an automated software product to the risk adverse, and litigious public, would be a death blow to any major corporation. Or it would be so expensive, that nobody would buy it.
Any small flaw which caused an injury, would generate a major lawsuit. It wouldn't matter if the software could be proven to be 10,000 times less likely to cause an injury than a human. The scope and complexity of software needed to navigate a urban environment is HUGE.
I am aware of the DAPRA Urban challenge, and the reason it is feasible to sell to the military, but not the general public is that the military cannot be sued.
Until major advancements in software engineering are available, life critical software will remain VERY VERY expensive.
I heard a figure that NASA paid $1 million per line of code for the shuttle, just to test it. Car manufacturers on the other hand will try to save every nickel on every car they build.
I definitely won't be an early adopter on this one.
Software mod? LOL??? Did I read that?
Do your research. This thing probably has a NATURAL LIMIT of 10'. To make it go higher you'd probably need to make the system that provides lift more powerful. PFFFF... Software mod.... thats hilarious.
Interesting concept, but why?
If it's not currently illegal to operate, it will be 10 seconds after they sell the first one. They're never going to let it fly over existing roads -- kind of limits its usefulness. ( There are several good reasons - 10 feet is not high enough to avoid existing traffic-- no brakes! -- difficult to operate -- the list goes on)
Also, what kind of mileage can you expect? Pretty much in the non green area, I'd expect. How much energy is spent keeping it airborne?
Moller - does he not ever give up. Six engines, 100% power and 1 person @ 10feet. The same power in a light aircraft gives 100miles @ 100mph at least with 2-4 persons. If the aircraft engines give out it won't fall out the sky like a brick unlike this contraption.
This will never be given to the public. Even with auto-control, ask the emergency services how many people they help after running out of gas. No auto-system in the world is going to keep it in the air without gas!
As for the military, most weapon systems are moving to infra-red for seek and this has six engines - just look at the harrier/JSF in IR when hovering. Helicopters are more efficient and there have smaller engines and therefore smaller IR. The hele engine does not provide direct lift and therefore it's exhaust can be cooled to some degree with diffusers.
The more I look at this, the more I think - if it was a good idea Boeing would have adopted in for the 787. I believe there are aerodynamic issues with round wings, but don't know the details.
Please stop giving this concept airtime.
This thing is pretty cool, not practical but still cool. Looks like fun to fly. It may not be as fast as a helecopter or airplane but it is much cheaper than a helecopter and doesen't need hundreds of meters of runway like a plane. This thing looks pretty inefficient from the videos I've seen the engins look like there working very hard to keep this thing in the air. With all this thing's complications a mechanical failure looks likly, good thing it only flies 10 feet off the ground. As for flying this thing over roads or in a city, flying this aircraft above roads is pointless beacuse you could just drive and flying in a city is ridiculously dangerous. This is more of a recreational aircraft. A more practical aircraft could be the personal tiltrotor.
I agree with SpeedyB
I want it large enough to accompany a Dozen people, Have metaphysical armor that is invisible in red light and I want a whicked sound system. Provide Me That.
~ You fall somewhere in the Balanced Frequency of Nature. Someone Along the Infinite Spectrum of Life.
*** Invisible, in white light ;) ***
Not only does the contraption look stupid but it seems nobody here is stopping to consider how ENORMOUS noise those fans keep up. Its like thinking your annoying neighbours annoying leafblower times 8. When the noise is kept on the airports or high enough in the air, its not that much of a deal. But these things park in garage and fly low.
Its really not something i would like my neighbour waking me with every morning.
wouldn't cost alot of $$$ for fuel considering how fast milage is used. Wouldn't also be dangerous to put on the market, cause what if someone ran out of fuel while flying
As I have said before: Popular Science must stop giving Moller ink. This is the exact same vehicle he tried to pawn off to investors (suckers) decades ago, and it didn't work then either.
The reason it will not go above 10 feet is because it can't leave ground effect, not because of some FAA excuse. It is an expensive hovercraft, not a flying car, just like all of his other failures.
How many times has Pop Sci fallen for the flying car con? Here is an idea: Wait till you see a prototype actually fly. Then claim a new era.
You guys are 100% missing the point. When the first light bulb was created where you there telling him how garbage it was compared to LED's ? I bet you would have been.
The point is, the guy is out there doing something that for all we know could be the beginning of a transportation revolution. I don't see you putting these vehicles together in your back yard...
Oh that’s right, you’re waiting for people like him to work their butts off and put their sweat and blood into the innovation so in 50 years you can take advantage of it.
So for now just keep telling them how stupid their ideas are ok. Your pessimism is greatly appreciated.
LucidTman you're the sh!t ;-) Fully agree with you. People need to back the hell off and calm down. New technology always takes a good chunk of time for provability in safety. Mind you we are making advances in automation daily. Don't look at this as being tomorrows toy in today's safety concerned world. This is tomorrows prototype that will be using tomorrows quantum computing power for safety. Ps my romba vacuum can find home before it's battery dies, why would this thing allow you top stay air born if its running on fumes? Think about the future of this idea people, not it's current state, in our current world. DUH!!!! My iphone can handle the math to land on the moon, why are people so pessimistic about the next 50 years?
I am sure some people called Edison and Franklin stupid for their inventions. I think the flying saucer is just the tip of the iceberg of future travel. Keep dreaming inventors, don't mind the idiots that think your work is useless. I love what you are doing.
Moller is complete BS. His "inventions" have been ready for market in 1 or 2 years for the past 2 decades.
Moller definently has a vision and he is a pioneer no doubt. But not all visionaries and pioneers see their ideas bare fruit. At least in the way they originally intended. For example, it may be, that Mollers Rotapower engine is very good and efficient, and there may be uses to such tech if it really is that good.
But then there is the question of whether these things will ever be practical. Theres a problem with noise, which i referred earlier. I dont see it being solved. Call me narrow minded, but i think howering needs to be achieved on some other tech than many small noisy fans. Not to mention problems with handling and all that. Same problems were seen in the howerpack demonstration. Its extremely hard to control, and is very loud.
All the problems COULD be solved. I just dont see it happening in machines, that use these sort of technical solutions.
I am glad someone finally mentioned the noise levels such a vehicle would produce. Seems to me it would be deafening. Also, I would think that fuel consumption to power one of these things would be ridiculously prohibitive.
If we must get off the ground, it's probably going to take some major breakthrough in maglev technology to do it. Either that or some simple anti-gravity device might do the trick ;)
Don't forget that only 2% of the earth is paved, not every road will have one hovering over it. Maybe this could be useful for rescue vehicles hopping from small town to small town? Or from remote location to the hospital, or getting peeps down from a burning building.... Either way there ARE uses for this, again I see this as people thinking it was invented for EVERYONE, not everything is for the selfish, go figure!
Moller has been struggling with this design for decades now, and has yet to create anything that is going to take us off paved roads and into the skies, but that's okay. Jet skis, hang gliders, sailplanes and parachutes also lack much practicality but can be lots of fun. And all of them-- the Moller car included-- could find key niche markets in search-and-rescue work, surveillance, sports coverage and other uncommon applications, and we may still see practical urban aircraft within the next few years.
Some of you may be familiar with Buckypaper-- it's little more than a laboratory curiosity for now, and is likely to remain so for some time, but has huge potential should anyone ever find a way to produce it in sufficient quantities cheaply enough. Buckypaper is made of carbon nanotubes, and outperforms the best graphite fiber to the same degree that graphite fiber outperforms balsa.
A sheet of premium nylon parachute cloth covering one acre would weigh more than 1,000 lbs.; a sheet of woven carbon nanotube fabric of the same size would only weigh four ounces, would be so thin as to be nearly invisible, could handle heat of several hundred degrees, and its tensile strength would be rated in the several thousand pounds of pressure per square inch.
Pressed into structural members such as struts, propellers, air ducts and other components, Buckypaper could assume any shape needed and could reduce the entire body of a Moller air car to just a few pounds.
The bad news is that despite dozens of high-tech labs all over the planet spending billions of dollars on carbon nanotube research, it is still a woefully difficult and expensive material to make-- so difficult that it's been estimated that no more than a hundred pounds or so of carbon nanotube has been produced in total from all sources.
Plentiful carbon nanotubes are desperately needed for a wide range of products; it is valuable in so many applications that we could easily use thousands of pounds of it every day if it were available.
Micro Bubble Techonology claims to have a breakthrough technique for creating abundant supplies of cheap nanotubes. To my knowledge, however, no third party has yet to verify those claim, and I hope that happens soon.
Aside from its use in stronger, lighter structural members, various forms of carbon nanutubes have very high electrical and thermal conductivity and so might be used to give electric motors and batteries far greater performance parameters as well: batteries may be able to give us greater energy density (the measure of its storage capacity), faster charges, and less temperature sensitivity. Motors may become much smaller, lighter and more efficient.
Currently, the best, most powerful batteries are close to being powerful enough to make electric airplanes practical, but not quite-- with just moderate increases in energy density, battery-powered aircraft would have significant advantages over fuel-powered aircraft: low noise, super low cost of operation, super simplicity, no pollution, and low maintenance.
Aircraft of any kind are exposed to much more sunlight than any earthbound vehicle. New breakthroughs at the University of Ohio in Cincinnati may soon give us far more of the 233 watts of energy per square foot that we so far have been unable to harness. Electrically powered aircraft could have their available daytime flight time increased significantly if their batteries were constantly being recharged from solar panels rated at several kilowatts.
Thinking bravely, imagine the combined effects of these technologies on any aircraft: imagine, for instance, the Moller air car with a far lighter airframe; a much lighter motor; lighter, more efficient batteries; and its entire outer surface coated with super-thin, super-light, super-efficient solar cells. I can envision such an aircraft could conceivably cover hundreds of miles before having to land to recharge its batteries.
Urban air traffic should not become a problem. Just as aircraft today are confined to "air lanes" over densely populated areas and airports, if air traffic increased considerably, urban air lanes could become ubiquitous, and controlled by redundant GPS and artificial intelligent systems.
The only criticism I have of the Moller air car as it is in the photo with this story is that silly Jetsons bubble dome. For such an inherently unstable aircraft operating just a few feet off the ground and operable in any direction, you'd think it would have something equivalent to a roll bar to protect occupants not only from turn-overs, but from the hazards of tree limbs and other inevitable obstacles, especially when the pilot's attention wanders or visibility is poor.
Whether it's through the efforts of Micro Bubble or some other clever startup, it's inevitable that carbon nanotubes will drop in price. They must, and when they do, vehicles such as the Moller air car can finally become a practical reality.
can imagine a policeman saying: please, step out of your vehicle, sir!
A small autogyro would be vastly safer, more efficient, much quieter, and a lot cheaper to build than the Moller designs (any of them.) Even with all those advantages tiny one man autogyros (which require only sport pilot certification, inexpensive and easy to get) still aren't that useful because they are very slow, hard to manage in adverse weather, and more for pleasure than practicality.
If you could fly an ultralight to work you could take an autogyro and either would be superior to Moller's ideas.
come on guys, get your head out of your #@%*, It's ok for movies like Back to the Future, The Jetsons and any other Sci-Fi flick, but get real. Just imagine thousands of these things flying around up there at any height, whose going to regulate them? what about conking out like a car does, where do you pull over to fix it, Nooooooo, you drop like a brick from the sky and kill yourself and anyone else you hit. Then it won't matter will it? Now if these things are up there, add booze to the picture, maybe we can do better than 50 thousand dying each year on the nations highways. I picture these things smashing into each other all over our skies, add two beers to that, whew pretty scary. Are there going to be some kind of highways in the sky like balloons to guide them, let say bright orange like the traffic cones now, people don't even respect them now, so why would one expect anyone to obey rules up there (providing this thing gets off the ground) no pun intended, anyway. I think he should put his ingenious mind to work and think of better ways to build safer cars. How come a race car driver can crash at over 200mph and walk away without a scratch and the average smuck going under 30 can die or get seriously injured in a regular car. Hmmmmmm. I think Ralph Nadar had it right when he said and I quote " the American people put more emphasis on style than SAFTY". I think a car should come with a roll bar and a cage,that should be standard not an option, ask anyone whose lost someone in a car accident where the car rolled over, I don't think they would be STYLE CONCIOUS at that time, especially if they were in it. What about drive through fast food, now what? Is MacDonalds going to build a burger stand in the sky? I mean we do get hungry don't we? Or are these things going to fly right up to the drive through and order a big mack combo and just fly away. I'm getting hungry from all this, think I'll DRIVE over to Carls and order a super star combo and try to get back in one piece. Rocky