DARPA's Transformer – sometimes referred to as the flying Humvee – seems to be moving right along, even if only on paper at this point. The DoD's out-there tech incubator has awarded Carnegie Mellon University's Robotics Institute $988,000 to develop an autonomous flight system for the vehicle, which would go a long way toward helping the proposed military vehicle get off the ground in both the literal and figurative senses.
The Transformer, you'll recall, is a proposed four-wheeled vehicle capable of off-road terrestrial travel as well as flight. DARPA is asking contractors for a vehicle with vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) capabilities, a 250-nautical-mile range on a single tank of fuel, a seating capacity of four, and a payload capacity of at least 1,000 pounds. The idea is to give soldiers terrain independent mobility, allowing them to leap impassable terrain or to avoid terrestrial threats like ambushes or improvised explosive devices.
Of course, part of that freedom of mobility means the average grunt needs to be able to operate the vehicle without a whole lot of extra pilot training. For that – and for any future commercial applications of the tech – vehicles like Transformer need to simplify the more complex tasks involved in flight, like takeoff and landing. Ostensibly, such systems could also be integrated into threat detection systems, automating evasive maneuvers if the vehicle detects the launch of an RPG or surface to air missile.
To do so it will need to maintain a good deal of environmental and situational awareness, and Carnegie Mellon certainly has the credentials to develop such systems. Its self-driving SUV won DARPA's 2007 Urban Challenge – a race for autonomous cars – and its researchers have created systems that automate navigation in autonomous submarines and helicopters as well.
Right now there are two incarnations of the Transformer under development, one design from AAI Corp. and another from Lockheed Martin. Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne was contracted $1 million to develop a lightweight diesel engine to propel the vehicle, making CMU the fourth technology collaborator that will hopefully propel Transformer skyward by 2015.
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This is pretty ridiculous with the ads
this is getting to be really annoying , this automated vandalism should be stopped
How hard can it be to hire a volunteer to remove a few posts of spam? I can do it, as I'm sure can many others.
Add two more rotor blades and you won't need the wings. Make the body slimmer and longer and make it out of carbon fiber. Carbon fiber is tougher than steel, very light, and add bullet proof fiber around it or mix it into the carbon fiber and you have a very light (you can add room for two more people), faster/safer long ranged land vehicle that can patrol in dangerous places and get out of dangerous places even quicker.
I agree, f*&k the spammers!
One more vote for anti-spam...
The way it is developing, this vehicle will probably make a better close-support weapon than a (very expensive) transporter. Oh well, if you're still young, wait until they manufacture it for the military, then join up w/ the contractual stipulation that your job will be to pilot it, and you'll be one of the lucky few to ever get to drive/fly one!
Okay... i have an idea, instead of trying to putt wings/propellers on a car, how bout' we put wheels and more armor on a small vtol craft like a little bird? i would think that would be a much easier approch.
Nice concept! They need to have a way to leave the wings and props behind after they land.
It's a good idea but I dont se and good uses. Why not just build a smaller helicopter
The tipping point for autodrive in all vehicles will be when the insurance companies mandate the 'No Coverage if in Manual Operation Mode' clause.
Why not just build somthing more along the lines of oh idk a pelican from halo? that way you can bring tanks or smaller vehicles with you? a flying car unless built just for flying sounds like a waste of money in my book. plus there picture looke big and bulky and easy to hit if you have the right kind of rocket launcher that locks on to a heat signature plus, what are u gonna do with the wings while ur driving? what if u need to go into a smaller space? i just don't view this as very practical in my book...Not saying it's a bad idea but it's a little far fetched.