Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Flying Vehicle Underway

"This new millennium sucks! It's exactly the same as the old millennium! You know why? No flying cars!" – Lewis Black

Flying cars have been something that people have been dreaming about for ages. Now, the United States Department of Defense has contracted a number of companies such as Pratt & Whitney and Lockheed Martin, to help construct a flying military vehicle to aid in better defense of our country.

In April of 2010, DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Project Agency) set out looking for proposals looking for a vehicle to meet their new needs. With in these proposals they are looking for a vehicle to be able to hold one to four people, be able to withstand rough terrain and also have the capability of vertical take off and landing (VTOL). They refer to the project as Transformer (TX) and it's purpose to have "terrain-independent mobility". DARPA has essentially asked for a flying Humvee, and the project to want to have it done by 2015.

Maryland-based AAI Corp. recieved a $3.05 million grant from DARPA to develop its hybrid wing/rotor Transformer vehicle (the picture above). Lockheed Martin has also recieved a similar grant to develop its own Transformer design (Image to the left),using massive duct fans on each side of the vehicle to amplify lift and thrust of the vehicle. Along with these other companies, Pratt & Whitney have also received a grant to develop a light weight diesel engine to operate the vehicle. With everyone collaborating on this Transformer project it seems as if the take off of the flying car is underway.

Our culture has always fantasized of having flying cars and open air-roads, and we all had hoped and thought that by now we would have this type of transportation available. With movies like Back to the Future and The 5th Element and even cartoons like The Jetsons, that all take place in our present time, flying personal transportation has been an idea we have only dreamed of. It seems that we continue to tell our selves that it's only a matter of time until it actually happens.

"But the Transition is a “roadable aircraft,” not a flying car. DARPA wants a dual-mode vehicle that requires no runway or special infrastructure considerations."

"Though not stipulated specifically, ideally the Transformer would automate takeoff and landing so the operating soldier doesn’t also need to be a pilot. Transformer must be efficient, achieving a range of 250 nautical miles on a single tank of fuel. And Transformer has a primary objective: to save soldiers’ lives. That’s not just a noble goal; it creates a high standard for safety as well. "

The flying military vehicle seems to be more than just an idea and a prototype and more like a tangible necessity. While this is an exciting progress on technology I'm sure most people are more interested in when there will finally be a flying car waiting in their garage.


  1. I'm not surprised that the military is also sticking their hand in the flying car jar. Even though we have seen many concepts of a hybrid vehicle like the flying car, I would guess that the military will be the first to use the idea in practice before we see anything commercially.

  2. flying car or drivable airplane? whichever one it is it seems pretty neat... I like the thought of using it in war

  3. Another example of America establishing dominance.

  4. I wish DARPA would fund a development for a helicopter like the ones in the film The Avatar.

    But then again, I doubt that'll happen now because the military is gradually being switched to rely on drones (UAV)s or robotic soldiers like the machine in this site

  5. I can't see how this could be safe. Wouldn't the wings be a point of vulnerability?