Competition around the world is fierce for the numerous “must-have” new products that hit the shelves or car lots for consumers. As each one is released, competitors work feverishly to roll out their own version as quickly as they can. Corporate espionage is big business, and it’s no big wonder why. The very first to come out what will be termed “the wave of the future” can sit back and look forward to billions of dollars in profits. While the good ideas are getting further and further between for a large variety of product types, there is one niche that has nowhere to go but up — literally.
In 1903, an area near Kitty Hawk was the site for the first flight of the powered aircraft by the Wright Brothers. And not since this time has the competition to be the first launching a product been so unbelievably intense. It may feel as if we as consumers have been waiting for ages for this finally to happen, but the technology that will give us the world’s first easily pilotable and easily affordable flying car is just about here.
Following in the footsteps of at the beginning of aircraft conception, there are a variety of different thought processes on which of the competing models will be the most worthy, workable, and efficient — setting the template for future designs.
Run away with the runway
Before we even start to talk about how convenient the flying cars are going be, one of the areas going to make the most significant difference is the lack of a need to have runways replacing roads. If you can drive around everywhere, but yet you must have a runway for both the take-off and landing portions of the drive, problems can easily increase as opposed to decrease. The ability to have a vertical landing and take-off is a concept that is at the heart of R&D of SkyCruiser — a hybrid transformer with five seats that is the brainchild of Krossblade Aerospace Systems.
With an appearance that some could swear looks like a mating between the flying Bat Mobile and some type of futuristic mini-plane, the SkyCruiser is powered by the Wankel rotary engine generator, and it comes complete with four fold-able rotors and four fold-able wings! This design would make it possible for the car to take off vertically, with no need for the use of a runway. Imagine the convenience when you are stuck in a traffic jam!
2015 is release year
Flying cars are slated to go on sale at some point this year, 2015. Once the cars have gone airborne they would be programmed to switch to horizontal flight. With speeds of more than 300 mph, its air flight will be powered by two 150 bhp electric motors. Current claims from the design team state that it would be possible to travel from San Francisco to Los Angeles in just over an hour — quicker than any current drivable aircraft in development.
Once the SkyCruiser is safely back on the ground, the four rotors can be retracted, there is significant stow space for the 31-foot wingspan, and electric wheels will take over for on the road driving — up to 75 mph. Since the length is just over 8-feet, just don’t expect to find downtown parking spaces easily.
If the car is going to be capable of flying, it needs to be optimized for flight. Physical driving should be secondary. The current prototype, named SkyProwler, has so far gone according to plan, and company spokespeople are saying it is only a matter of time.
Ease of Control
While the actual quadcopter technology is not new, what is changing the aviation landscape is the fact that it is now driven by technology. While a helicopter is able to achieve maneuverability by changing the pitch of the rotors, quadcopters can only achieve the same result by adjusting their rotation speed.
Going back into history, quadcopters where actually the first to attempt a vertical lift-off, not helicopters, this has been recorded back even before the 1920s. The first actual vertical liftoff was attempted in 1917. The problem with these early versions was that the pilot was constantly adjusting, making them impossible to fly. Now it is the flight computers that take care of all this “drone” work. They react exactly as you would assume — with no worrying about controlling and calibrating.
Another contender for the world’s first flying car is Aeromobil, a Slovakian company who unveiled the Aeromobil 3.0 in Vienna. Nicknamed the Flying Roadster, this sporty prototype looks like it has already gone through the production phase. The Flying Roadster has a top speed in the air of 124 mph and a range of 430 miles.
Although some aviation infrastructure is need by the Aeromobil in order for it to operate, designers say that its flexibility will come from several proprietary systems. Among these are the greater drag ability to make landing easier, increased takeoff lift, and attack wings that have variable angles.
The Regulations and Rules
As is to be expected with any new type of technology system, the largest hurdles to getting these cars in the air are most likely to be the politicians and the regulatory bodies. It can easily be compared to all of the new rules and regulations that made an appearance when mobile phones first began to be seen.
However, the logistics are going to be much more difficult than simply finding a clear cell phone tower. Researching the mass air transit systems and potential guidelines for alternate routes is already in the works. If everything comes together the way it should, hopefully by the time that buyers are starting to purchase these flying cars, all of the control tower bugs will be worked out as well.