The Crazy News Guy

NASA begins Flying Car contest, but one company says the future of air travel is here now.

In 21st century, Air travel, Flying Car, NASA, News, technology, Uncategorized, World on August 8, 2007 at 4:40 pm

Who said flying saucers were not from this world?

As NASA launches a US$2 million prize contest for a viable flying car or personal air vehicle (PAVs), a competition called the PAV Challenge, one company says it’s already light years ahead.

The US company called Moller International says it is ready to put a real flying saucer onto the market, so you and I can have a piece of the action.

wflying103.jpg

Inspired by 1960’s cartoon series, The Jetsons, the California-based company has just begun production on the initial six airframes of its M200G Volantor.

Meet George Jetson!

Apparently, the personal flying pod can glide three metres off the ground and carry two passengers. It is powered by eight of the company’s rotary engines and with a maximum flying hight of just 3 meters above the ground, the flying saucer is said to act similar to a hovercraft without the restrictions of a rough surface, and can even “glide over terrain at 50 MPH.”

There are even prototype plans in the works for high-rise rescue pod configurations, and pods that can be equipped with weapons for use in the military, with reports this month that the US Department of Defence is looking at purchasing at least some of the technology.

5th_copcars.jpg

 In the 1997 Sci-Fi/Action movie, The 5th Element, flying cars are the only way to get around…

The prototype has completed over two hundred flights with and without a pilot on board.

For safety, air-bags surround occupants in the cockpit, while the vehicle’s on-board computer system ensures that it does not enter regulated airspace.

But is this the real deal?

The owner of Moller International, Canadian Dr Paul Moller, has been working to sell flying car style products for some 40 years, and while nobody really doubts that his vehicle is able to lift off in the air at least for a few moments, it takes up a lot of energy to get a fully stable and viable, Jetsons style pod to work for transportation.

The same man and company is, or was, behind the well documented Skycar. That made waves in the media back in 2003, but the buzz around that soon subsided when Dr Moller and his company was sued by the US Securities and Exchange commission, a lawsuit that was settled for US$50,000.

The Moller Skycar prototype. It’s noisy, unstable, and doesn’t go very far at all. Couldn’t even sell it on eBay.

As to date, the company has never bought a viable vehicle to market, but Moller insists that this flying pod is going to be different. But with a pricetag of at least US$90-$125,000, evidence of a potentially successful product is still to be seen, so I wouldn’t be holding my breath, just yet anyway.

However, NASA is optimistic about the future prospects of Jetsons style personal air travel, a future that some thought would be a reality today. A future where flying cars are as common as cars on the road.

A recent report predicts that up to 45% of all miles travelled in the future may be in PAVs.  The prediction accounts for the need to relieve the future congestion at metropolitan hub airports and the roads and freeways that surround them.

It would also reduce the need to build new highways and save much of the 6.8 billion gallons of fuel wasted in surface gridlock each year.

I’d just like to know who gets to drive these future air cars, and what traffic system is in place to stop deadly accidents. A problem you can bet a flying car future would bring, given the death and destruction the humble car has unleashed on the worlds roads in the last 100 years.

See video of the pod, should I say very dubious as there is a big crane pictured off to the side of the test field. I wonder what that could be for.

Also the video looks to have been taken some time in the 1980’s, maybe even longer ago than that.

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  1. This project sounds perfect for Nasa. All applicants please demonstrate your willingness to wear diapers and drink a quart of vodka before liftoff.

    Come to think of it, this job may be perfect for me.

  2. Bahahah! Good times.
    You just need to be a former teacher, wait 22 years and you’ll be set….

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