Or, perhaps, a garagable aircraft.
Landing and parking animation (video may load very slowly):
MIT press release.
Who needs a plane that can only reach an altitude of 10 feet?
I always thought helicopters would be more useful than a plane – I still think that.
It has to take off and land at an airport – so what’s the point? How is that going to help anything? It used a runway to land and then DROVE to it’s home?? I have ‘road rage’ just thinking about it.
The actual “flying car” is the easiest part of the problem to solve anyway… It’s the ATC, safety and navigation bits that cause the problem. When was the last time you tried to drive to work on instruments alone?
If it only goes up 10 feet how can you fly to heaven in it? It’s useless for the Rapture.
Thinking: Right, but for Boston Traffic it is perfect. You go above the cars and below the overhead trolly wires.
Helicopters, yes. It takes a very sophisticated control system to make it easy for a novice to control. However, the technology certainly exists today for such a control system.
I’ve been playing around with designs, and IMO you want something with more than one rotor, perhaps four. Mount them on prehensile pylons, so they can adjust to differences in weight distribution in the cabin. Unlike a one-rotor helicopter, the hub can be a lot simpler because you don’t have to have the blades capable of swinging in the plane of rotation to correct for forward velocity. Simply make the rotors counter-rotating by side (clockwise for the left rotor, counterclockwise for the right). The rotors can also be completely displaced from the cabin, so you don’t have to worry about blocking the downdraft.
My calc’s show that a one ton four rotor vehicle with a 20 m/sec downdraft hovering out of ground effect would require rotors with a (bit under) four meter diameter. I’m assuming hovering with three rotors, which leaves a bit of redundancy for failure. Each rotor would require about 33 KWatts (not allowing for frictional losses). Given that power/weight ratios can get better with smaller engines (given appropriate design), I’d give each rotor its own engine. Again, this offers redundancy for failure.
Note that folding the wings down on those rotors would give an umbrella-like package two meters long, which, with the prehensile pylons, could fold up against or over the body for garaging.
Imagine parallel parking. A fender bender. So unfortunate would that be.
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