Tuesday, January 29, 2008

A flying car

It seemed like a plausible idea that we would have flying cars in the year 2000. 8 years later it seems like we're still trying to figure out how to fly for the first time or if it is even possible. What happened to the Moller Skycar? It looked sweet when I saw it 5+ years ago. If the 2 videos on the web were "good test flights" then it really unsold me of the car. It looked like it barely kept from going out of control.

If you change your perspective a little, we have had the technology and we've been using it for nearly 40 years. The flying car is actually called the Harrier jet. Its capable of vertical takeoffs, it has wheels. The speeds and range of the harrier jet is far better than any prototype of skycar. In fact, if you look at the latest prototype of the skycar, it is just a plane capable of vertical takeoff. So the only real problem is:

1. Price and availability of military grade jet fuel

2. Is it the engineering, rights to, or the materials cost that makes this vehicle not affordable?

I really don't think #2 is the issue. You can't say that military engineers are the only engineers who are savvy enough to put a vehicle like a harrier together. I'm not saying its going to be easy by any means, but someone has gotta have the resources to do it. Just don't make one in full view of everyone including police and the military and you may be ok.

So the problem is really all about the gas. How much thrust can regular gas station fuel give us at the most optimum settings in the best engine possible? Probably not enough. I've heard the harrier jet can burn 200lbs of fuel a minute doing a vertical takeoff. Now that is something 99.999999% of the people cannot afford to do on a regular basis.

What needs to change is our technology of gas and the efficiency of the engine. We need a technological breakthrough to be able to fly to work, and fly back on a daily basis. Not just these babysteps in going from 20mpg to 30mpg. I would really like to see flying cars become a common thing in my life time. Will it happen? Its still too early to tell.

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