Thursday, March 22, 2007

The Jetsons Era Arriving?

It appears that the mythical flying car may soon be a reality. For many years Moller has teased us with his "Skycar" that was always "just a few years away". I've worked on a few projects like that, too...

However, recently a bunch more similar ideas have been popping up, fitting in under the new light-sport aircraft rules in the U.S. and Europe. The most famous is probably Terrafugia, which was started by a team of MIT students after their concept won a cash prize. I have some doubts about this one, but my main one is that they'll be able to get it made street-legal, since cars are so heavily regulated.

Which is why I found the new PAL-V to be much more interesting. For starters, they went with a gyrocopter design instead of a winged aircraft -- folding rotors is much easier than folding wings. More importantly, three wheels makes it technically a motorcycle, which means as long as the motor passes noise emissions you're golden.

And apparently they're not the only people to have come up with this idea -- an American gyrocraft designer has come up with a similar concept, although his vehicle looks much more like something from 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea.

Will I be first to line up for a flying car? Probably not -- I'll let a few other people test them out for reliability first. The Terrafugia looks clumsy, but the PAL-V seems like something I could see myself owning one day.

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