Sunday, July 10, 2011

Terrafugia -- Not Exactly a Flying Car -- Gets US NHTSA Approval

...the Terrefugia Transition has gotten regulatory approval to fly and drive in the US. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration really calls this a "roadable aircraft" meaning it's more a plane that taxis really really well than a great car that can fly above traffic jams. But "flying car" sounds so much more James Bond, doesn't it? _itworld
Terrafugia Gets US Approval to Drive On Roads
Carl Dietrich's Terrafugia team has worked hard for several years to develop, build, and test a vehicle that is both road-worthy and air-worthy. The Terrafugia appears to be both -- in skillful hands -- and generally inexpensive to fly and drive. The $200,000 purchase price is more than your typical compact economy car requires, but if you are going to spend that much money for a vehicle, you are more likely to give it the type of care that it will demand.

Meanwhile, the EU is taking a different approach toward uplifting the daily commute:
The intent of myCopter is to set up a framework in which even the most idiotic drivers will be able to take advantage of personal air vehicles (PAVs). The key, of course, is making sure that the aforementioned idiots have as minimal a role in the operation of their vehicles as possible, which is why the EU wants PAVs to be mostly (or fully) autonomous. Initially, they'll stay out of controlled airspace (i.e. areas around airports where they risk tangling with a 747), but eventually the idea is to have them completely integrated into our existing infrastructure. _Dvice

The US DARPA wants to develop something similar to the EU's concept of an "idiot-proof" flier, and has the Carnegie Mellon Robotics Dept. to help develop their version.
...the U.S. government is also pursuing the idea of a flying car. The Pentagon's Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency awarded a 17-month, $988,000 contract to Carnegie Mellon's Robotics Institute to develop an autonomous flight system for the Transformer (TX) Program.

The TX program aims to develop a robust ground vehicle that can transform into an air vehicle with vertical take-off and landing capability, while offering significant operational flexibility with the ability to travel 250 nautical miles on land and in the air, or a combination, while carrying up to 1,000 pounds.

The Pentagon's DARPA has selected six vendors. AAI Corporation and Lockheed Martin Company are the prime system integrators. Carnegie Mellon University and Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne are developers of critical enabling technology. Aurora Flight Sciences partnered with ThinGap, and Metis Design Corp, two Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) recipients to participate in this 12-month effort. _IBT
The DARPA version is far more robust and multi-purpose than the EU version, but then the US Defense Department personnel often see much rougher duty than the fat-bottomed bureaucrats of the EU. ;-)



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