Going out of town for the weekend? In the future, highway traffic won't make you miss your flight — just grab a bus to the air taxi field down the street, then take a pre-flight flight to the airport in an autonomous Suburban Air Vehicle.
NASA's Green Flight Challenge, which seeks environmentally friendly and efficient new flight concepts, could inspire systems of SAVs ferrying people between pocket airports, according to the Comparative Aircraft Flight Efficiency Foundation (CAFE). Micro airports built into neighborhoods could have queues of airplane taxis to take people and goods between various points in a community.
Brien Seele, CAFE's president, told Gizmag this week that pocket airports embedded in communities could have several configurations allowing for taxi takeoffs every 30 seconds.
A single runway concept would take up only two acres and could have 120 operations per hour, Gizmag reports. A triangular pocket airport could allow 260 operations per hour on four acres, and so on.
The planes' flight paths would be coordinated by a master computer system to prevent collisions. Just in case, each SAV would come with a parachute, Gizmag reports.
Of course, this assumes the SAVs are super-quiet — no more than 60 decibels from 125 feet — and can take off in less than 100 feet. Seele also envisions SAVs that get over 200 mpg and cruise at 120 mph. The planes would have to be at least 150 feet in the air by the time they cleared the airport's boundaries — "high enough to not be heard by the backyard barbecuers in the residences nearby," Seele said — so they will need to be super-powerful and designed for maximum lift.
NASA is already working on several concepts that could fit the bill. A major Green Aviation Summit in September included discussions of unconventional aircraft designs, super-efficient engines and lightweight materials that can reduce drag and noise while increasing lift. And NASA's $1.6 million green challenge, which runs through next July, already requires competitors to build aircraft that can take off in less than 2,000 feet, cruise at 100 mph and emit no more than 78 decibels from a 250-foot distance.
The CAFE Foundation wants future challenges that will award $2 million for ultra-quiet, short-runway SAVs, and $2.35 million to whoever can make them autonomous.
Airports are already a hassle. If things don't change the way they are now, I can't imagine someone (myself included) wanting to board another connecting flight (even if it is just an air-taxi) before you get to you destination.
Can anyone here explain how air taxi's could be environmentally friendly?
not too bad of an idea. but how many people would the shuttle support per flight?
Also, instead of a triangle, have the runways parallel to each other, no waisted space in the center as the triangle setup has. And have at least 4 runways (North-, South-, East-, West-bound traffic).
forget it , if your in the air and something goes wrong your dead . I for one will stay on the ground .
They need to take the automation to the roadways . Driverless cars are the future I want to see . Remember Minority Report ? Why cant we do that ? The cell phone companies want us to use to eat up more of our talk time and data usage so they can make more money and the governments keep introducing laws that make it illegal to use a cell phone let alone a laptop computer while your driving , if we could all drink a coffee and surf the internet on our wireless devices on the way to work I go through 2 hours worth every day additional usage and my provide would get very rich . Plus automated roadways would be safer and more efficient I hope .
Finally, a use for all those down-at-heels strip malls!
@steve28 use your head a little. yes you are right. IF something goes wrong in the air you are gone. IF. Do you have ANY idea how deadly driving a car is? It is the single most dangerous activity humans take part in. Do you realize it is the NUMBER 1 cause of death of American teenagers and kills about 50,000 adults a year??? plane crashes. about 100 a year. and millions and millions of people fly. With ANY high speed travel, if something goes wrong you are dead. Do you think if a bullet or mag-lev train going 200 mph crashes you are going to walk away. No way. a great idea is the vacuum transport. Tons of people are saying this is future. and super fast. Same thing. if something goes wrong you are dead. Basically buddy. if you want to get anywhere fast, you are taking a risk. that inculdes cars for sure.
my ONLY complaint about this article is that I read about this idea in Pop sci over 5 years ago. Back then airline industry was doing REALLY badly after 9 11. Tons of experts talked about this. Saying that big airplanes are the downfall of the industry. Smaller airplanes and smaller airports are getting cheaper and cheaper. Instead we make the two LARGEST airplanes of all time the and look how well those two are working out...
This is non-sensical. A car on the ground uses energy to propel the vehical against friction from the air, friction from the road, and inertia. A flying vehical removes the friction of the road, but replaces it with lift. While increasing mass in a car increases round friction and interia, it is nowhere near the equivalent in how it affects lift.
As someone already mentioned, air travel is already on a razor thin line of cost v. profitability, with the governement subsidizing more years than not. Reducing passanger capacity is the opposite direction from profitability, as fuel cost per passanger is reduced primarely though increasing the number of passangers per flight - not by running smaller flights.
In other words, a four seat plane cost much more per seat per mile than a 75 seat plane.
This idea only eliminated the transport to the larger hub airport - and would be a costly and pointless exercize. It would cost the family more in money, the environment more in fuel consumption, and would not even save time (as it puts another intermediary mode into the transport).
Personal cost, vehical cost, etc.
If the concerns are cost, safty, and environment - then underground subways could be consructed for that purpose, with an upfront cost that would be balanced in only a few years.
Would you still have to be molested or go through a porno-cancer scanner if you used a 4-person air-taxi?
Considering you must watch fox news and assume blowing up yourself and 3 others is worth it... I'd imagine not.
It has nothing to do with fox news or blowing people up. The point of terrorism is to blow up people, not airplanes.
So, ask yourself this: Is concentrating a bunch of people inside of an airport at a "security checkpoint" any different than concentrating them inside of an airplane as far as a bomb is concerned?
The answer should obviously be "no, it's not".
So, if you are just as easily bombed waiting in a security line as you are sitting in an airplane... what could possibly be the benefit of getting your junk fondled by a TSA agent?
Well... the "benefit" is that if someone blows up a security checkpoint, the precious precious airplanes won't be harmed and the airline won't lose $$$'s.
You're getting porno-scanned and molested not for your own safety, but for the safety of giant airlines.
So the Moller sky car may go to production after all.
I think many components of this model may be implemented when the Samson Switchblade is sent into production. I'm surprised that the article didn't mention the companies have already started implementing NASA SATS air-taxi model such as ImagineAir (www.flyimagineair.com). The cost right now for a private "air-taxi" is still pretty expensive but about the same per-seat as a first class airline or last minute coach seat.
@BV - No the only operations that require TSA screenings are scheduled airline flights. If you fly yourself, or with an on-demand carrier, charter, or air taxi, there are no TSA screening procedures.