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'Flying Saucers' to Go On Sale Soon 327

Posted by CowboyNeal
from the meet-george-jetson dept.
gihan_ripper writes "Perhaps the ultimate nerd acquisition, the flying car, is to go on sale in a few months. Speaking to the BBC, the inventor Dr Paul Moller described his creation, dubbed the Flying Saucer, as a VTOL aircraft designed to hover at 10 ft. above the ground. The flying saucer has eight engines and is expected to sell for $90,000. Dr Moller expects to produce a successor within six years, a 'Skycar' capable of a climb rate of 6000 ft./min. and an airspeed of 400 mph."
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'Flying Saucers' to Go On Sale Soon

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  • by networkBoy (774728) on Thursday August 30, 2007 @11:43PM (#20420837) Homepage Journal
    from holding my breath
    • by Kagura (843695)
      If everybody tags this "dontholdyourbreath", maybe we can eventually get the parent his karma back.
    • by GooberToo (74388) on Friday August 31, 2007 @08:15AM (#20423543)
      Dr Moller expects to produce a successor within six years, a 'Skycar' capable of a climb rate of 6000 ft./min. and an airspeed of 400 mph.

      To put this in perspective, an Apache Longbow with 2400HP and empty except for fuel, at sea level, *might* see 4000 ft/min; and this thing is designed for operation in the vertical. From a power to weight ratio, Moller has nothin even close to what an Apache can produce. As usual, he's full of BS. Heck, most light GA, piston aircraft are lucky to see 1000ft/min, especially once you get a couple thousand feet above sea level. Granted, most light GA doesn't have vertical thrust but my point is, he is simply not working in reality unless he knows about some super secret advancements in engine technology.

      from holding my breath

      Agreed. Make room because you're about to have a room full of dead bodies from everyone else holding their breath.
      • 400mph is the speed of fighters near the end of WW II. Anything going 400mph is not designed for vertical operation, not even close. It's using wings for lift at that speed and 6000 fpm climb is not out of the question.

        Now whether he can actually go 400 mph ... I'll believe it when it flies, not from press releases.
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by GooberToo (74388)
          Here is a link to a new breed of jet (VLJ) [eclipseaviation.com]. The jet is very small. It has TWO JET ENGINES. It seems it has a climb rate of 3400fpm on a good day, lightly loaded (meaning light fuel and pilot). The jet can carry a maximum of five people. It's a tiny jet. It has a pretty good power to weight ratio.

          It is impossible for him to see 6000fpm off of ducted fan picton engines. The power to weight ratio simply does not exist for him to get out of ground effect let alone climb at 6000fpm. I'm sorry, but the en
    • by nurb432 (527695) on Friday August 31, 2007 @10:01AM (#20424923) Homepage Journal
      Well, never know. Perhaps he finally will sell one, its bound to happen someday.. Perhaps we will finally have HURD released as well.. Then world peace will soon to follow.... and free iPhones will fall out of the sky, off the backs of flying pigs!
    • by blueZ3 (744446) on Friday August 31, 2007 @11:23AM (#20425999) Homepage
      I swear this guy puts P.T. Barnum to shame.

      "Dr." Paul Moller has been promising to sell his skycar "in a few years" since the 70's. When I first saw something about his concept (in a late-70's Pop Sci, as I recall) it looked pretty interesting. At the time (almost 30 years ago) Moller was promising these "soon." But as time has gone by it's become clearer and clearer that the only thing that Moller is selling is old-fashioned snake-oil and the only folks he's selling to are the gullible.

      If you look at what he's offering for sale "soon" you'll see that it's not the long-promised skycar, it's a flying saucer type craft that looks like something out of a Mario Party minigame. Seriously, it looks like four weed-whacker engines in a fiberglass shell molded from an old Texaco sign.
  • I had one (Score:5, Funny)

    by MarkRose (820682) on Thursday August 30, 2007 @11:45PM (#20420849) Homepage
    I had a flying saucer once, but when it landed it broke into a thousand shards.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by waa (159514)
      ...of indestructible pieces of unearthly tinfoil-like metal :)
    • by Divebus (860563) on Friday August 31, 2007 @12:11AM (#20421007)
      I'd love to hear the morning traffic report if more than three of these get sold into one metro area. It ain't just fender-benders anymore, folks. The accidents are bound to be specatcular.
      • by Colin Smith (2679)
        I'd hope they would be computer controlled. Alternatively they might be better suited to military applications, like the hovercraft.

         
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by couchslug (175151)
        The flying car is a terrible idea. Besides being extremely dangerous, it is wasteful of energy, has little cargo capacity, and still requires professional maintenance.

        Joe Sixpack isn't an Aviation Maintenance Technician or a pilot. Joe Sixpack does not need to be making low-level flights over residential areas.

        The appropriate response would be to restrict all air traffic to officially designated airports/heliports and kill this idiocy off (if someone ever builds a viable machine). Requiring flying cars to p
        • Re:I had one (Score:4, Insightful)

          by CastrTroy (595695) on Friday August 31, 2007 @07:47AM (#20423313) Homepage
          This is my biggest fear about flying cars. Look at the mechanical state of the cars that the average person drives. It's terrible. But it doesn't bother us, because mostly when their car breaks down (engine dies, or whatever), they can make it to the side of the road, or if worse comes to worse, they stop in the middle of traffic, and we go around them. They could even put it in neutral and push it off the road. What happens when a flying vehicle breaks down. Well, it falls. Sure some planes have 2 engines, and can continue flying if one shuts off, but knowing Joe Sixpack, he'd drive it around for months with only 1 engine.
  • by LaZZaR (216092) * on Thursday August 30, 2007 @11:47PM (#20420857)
    Strange thing is, the other day I was thinking about Back to the Future 2, how all those years ago the writers thought we might all have flying cars in 2015, and how off the mark they were. Looks like they were right after all!
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Lisandro (799651)
      I always thought the flying cars thing in BTTF 2 were a bit tongue in cheek; in fact, the whole representation of the future was meant to be humorous. I still laugh when i hear Doc Brown's comparison of the meteorological and postal services in the future ;)
    • by Mex (191941) on Friday August 31, 2007 @01:20AM (#20421391)
      Don't be fooled. This Moller person pops up every year on Slashdot and other websites touting his machine, with the same 10 second clips of a "flying car". Add me to the list of people who will "Believe it when I see it".

      I post this because I remember this exact same person being promoted here on slashdot at least 3 years ago.
    • by Jeff DeMaagd (2015) on Friday August 31, 2007 @01:28AM (#20421445) Homepage Journal
      Moller has been saying something to the effect of "in five years" for the last fourty years. Every story on this guy, his project and the ideal that it supposedly represents bugs me. This BBC story digs up the most dirt that I've seen from this kind of story so far, and that's just "it's not yet approved by the FAA". That's because it probably will never be approved. As far as I'm concerned, stories like this only aid this scammer. The SEC had sued Moller - the same SEC that's been on their duffs over SCO's pump and dump scheme, if that gives you any indication of how bad it is.
      • by couchslug (175151) on Friday August 31, 2007 @07:33AM (#20423201)
        It won't be approved because the design is idiotic. It is unstable (hence the tethered demos!), cannot autorotate or glide, and even with adaptive flight controls would be hard put to withstand the loss of an engine due to their location.

        Ever wonder why investors with aviation knowledge and money to burn DON'T fund him?

        This fellow isn't another Igor Sikorsky.
    • by mcrbids (148650) on Friday August 31, 2007 @02:23AM (#20421703) Journal
      Hey, we just might get our flying cars. But they won't be coming from this guy. (See below for the bazillion posts of SCAM SCAM SCAM - this guy's been at it for years.

      But there is a ray of light on the horizon, in the form of a real, honest-to-gosh flying car [com.com].

      As a private pilot, I'm so hoping so hoping so hoping that this one actually works out! Light plane aviation has a number of problems:

      1) Getting from your house to the plane is a hassle - the plane's at an airport, you have to park your car, leaving your car for very long can be expensive, you need a ride in a cab, etc.

      2) Weather is a BIATCH. You plan a flight a week in advance, and then you get thunderstorms hitting right where you wanted to land. Small planes don't do nearly as well as the big jets in bad weather.

      3) Hassle at the other end: Once you've landed, you're more or less stuck without a rental car. And in many smaller airports, that's a pain. Rental car agencies will deliver a rental car, but that doesn't make much sense when the nearest rental is 45 minutes away.

      4) Parking - who wants to pay hundreds of dollars a month for what amounts to a garage that happens to be next to the tarmac at the airport?

      The MIT "folding wings" car would solve all these problems:

      1) Drive it to the airport.

      2) If the weather gets too bad to fly, land at the nearest airport and drive the rest of the way.

      3) Once you've landed, you fold wings and drive to your destination on surface streets.

      4) At home, you park it in your garage!

      All this for about $100,000?!?!?! Hell yes I'd buy one!
      • by YrWrstNtmr (564987) on Friday August 31, 2007 @07:38AM (#20423247)
        The MIT "folding wings" car would solve all these problems:

        The operating regimes are too different to make a good, semi-efficient, cross vehicle. Take a standard Cessna 172. About 750kg. Thats about the same as the SmartCar. Now bolt on foldable wings and other control surfaces, the supporting structure needed to hold all that, extra instrumentation...and you've added 500kg to that SmartCar.
        Or attack it the other way. How much would a 172 weigh if it needed 5mph bumpers, door beams, and a suspension/frame strong enough to handle a pothole at 60mph? Add in the drive mechanism to get power to the wheels. Oh, and the (strong/foolproof!)linkage needed for the foldable wings. It would end up a much larger aircraft. Where do you put those wings so they don't block the view when on the ground? Only place I can think of is on the roof.

        The aircraft spends 99% of its operating life in the smooth, pothole-free, air. There is no need to haul around a useless heavy frame and suspension. A car spends ALL of its operating life on the very uneven ground. With all the bumps and dings that go with that. And no need to haul around unneeded flight control surfaces.

        Can it be done? Sure. Can it be done as more than a toy? Not anytime soon.
    • For the general public anyway. They might make good military vehicles or some other special purpose.

      If they ever become fully computer controlled then maybe.
       
  • by Dusthead Jr. (937949) on Thursday August 30, 2007 @11:49PM (#20420877)
    I saw this and previous veriations on this way back in 1987 on a tech show called Beyond 2000. 20 years later and still a prototype.
    • by russellh (547685) on Thursday August 30, 2007 @11:59PM (#20420943) Homepage

      I saw this and previous veriations on this way back in 1987 on a tech show called Beyond 2000. 20 years later and still a prototype.
      I remember it. Was it not called the merlin then? I remember reading about it in some popsci rag in 1989 or so. My dad worked at a research lab in fuels and combustion in those days and his colleagues didn't believe the power to weight ratio claims for the engines. I so wanted to believe though.
      • by AKAImBatman (238306) <.akaimbatman. .at. .gmail.com.> on Friday August 31, 2007 @12:33AM (#20421103) Homepage Journal

        his colleagues didn't believe the power to weight ratio claims for the engines.

        That's really what was killing him. His initial claims were impressive, but it was easy to see from his hover tests that he wasn't getting quite the power originally promised. In fact, he had to abandon the thrust redirection slats he originally promised, and moved to rotating nacelle design. That, of course, had a direct impact on the stability of the vehicle's hover capabilities.

        I remember watching the hover test videos for the first time. Over the loud whine of the engines as they struggled to keep the craft aloft, I kept thinking "those props don't have enough power". Supposedly he recently upgraded the engines on the craft, so we'll see how that goes.

        All in all, it's going to be a fancy airplane. You'll still need a pilot's license and you'll still need much of the same clearance as a plane needs. I want to believe that it will be an aircraft that "anyone" can fly, but my gut says it will be a deathtrap for any untrained pilots that dare to attempt to fly the contraption.

        Still, best of luck to Mr. Moller. It's great to see a "done" model of this finally arrive! :)
        • by arivanov (12034)
          All in all, it's going to be a fancy airplane.

          All in all it will be a very fancy fuel bill is probably a more accurate description.

    • by jcr (53032)
      Moller's been "five years away" from delivering the skycar for at least 20 years. I'll believe it when I see it.

      -jcr
  • With Moller... (Score:5, Informative)

    by Merk (25521) on Thursday August 30, 2007 @11:50PM (#20420887) Homepage

    I'll believe it when I can actually buy one. Much as I'd like a flying car, his always seem to be "Real Soon Now(TM)" AFAIK, Moller has never actually had anything for sale. Downside(R) lists his company as a scam [downside.com] because it has been a few years from production for 30 years. There have also been SEC complaints [sec.gov] for "fraudulent, unregistered offering and the filing of a fraudulent Form 10-SB by Moller International, Inc. ("MI" or "the company"), a California company engaged in the development of a personal aircraft known as "the Skycar.""

    I'd like to be wrong, but I sure won't be putting down any money just yet.

    • by Gary W. Longsine (124661) on Friday August 31, 2007 @12:10AM (#20421001) Homepage Journal
      The last time he was in the headlines was a few years ago. The SkyCar was going to go on sale soon. What the press release and news articles didn't say was that it was *the* one and only prototype SkyCar that was going to go on sale, in the Nieman Marcaus catalog. This guy comes out with a press release every few years to raise cash for toys. Last time I looked at his web page he was also selling some kind of diet supplement pills, right on the same page with the SkyCar info! Scam scam scam scam scammity-scam scammity-scam! Can I have his scam? I like scam!
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by tantaliz3 (1074234)
        How is it a scam? He isn't even selling it yet! If he chooses to develop something and release details to build anticipation, he's doing EXACTLY what every single individual/corporation does to build hype before they release their product/service. What is he doing wrong? How many super-successful new gizmos have been delayed years or even decades before they were released to world-wide acclaim?
        • by tm2b (42473)
          That wouldn't be a problem if he didn't take money from anybody. The SEC complaint [sec.gov] is that he builds hype and then goes looking for investors to take him the last step before he gets listed on the NYSE - which never seems to happen...
    • AFAIK, Moller has never actually had anything for sale.

      Well, he did start SuperTrapp Industries. They are still in business, Moller sold off that subsidiary in 1988. He has an impressive resume, but I agree, I've been watching him try to develop the flying car for at least a couple of decades now.
    • Seems like it's available "Real Soon Now" for large values of "Soon".

      from TFA:
      By the time the Skycar goes into production - probably in about six years time - it will be capable of climbing 6,000ft a minute and travelling at up to 400 miles an hour.

      I'd say your skepticism is warranted.
      • Re:With Moller... (Score:4, Interesting)

        by pchan- (118053) on Friday August 31, 2007 @12:51AM (#20421219) Journal

        I'd say your skepticism is warranted..
        I have somewhere in a stack of papers a popular mechanics article from 1986 (yes, 21 years ago), that claims the Moller Skycar will be out in a few years and listing those exact specs. I'm all out of skepticism, all I have left is disbelief.
        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by king-manic (409855)
          I'm all out of skepticism, all I have left is disbelief.

          You roll a 18, you disbelieve the illusion.
          • by rts008 (812749)
            LOL!
            The onboard PC on the flying car will also come with DukeNukem 4 installed for traffic jam entertainment.

            pchan was right, I read the article, but unlike him I do not have it archived in any form other than my memory....which reminds me...Hey you kids!!!Get off of my lawn!!!!
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Ginsu2000 (556427)
      Sir Richard Branson actually got arrested in the early days of Virgin Music if you read his excellent autobiography (evading VAT tax) and he had to pay it back or he would go to prison! Moller and Branson (Virgin Galactic) have determination and vision, which is exactly what you need when it comes down to being the next Henry Ford. Wonder how Scaled Composites (Virgin Galactic) and the Cartercopter guys view the skycar? I think it looks a lot more feasable than other flying cars. The time is now! As I've sa
      • by Comboman (895500) on Friday August 31, 2007 @09:23AM (#20424285)
        I think it [the skycar] looks a lot more feasable than other flying cars.

        That's a bit like saying the Star Trek Enterprise's warp engines look a lot more feasible than other types of faster-than-light travel like those totally unbelievable Hyperdrives from Star Wars.

    • It's not the easiest business to pull together, and I don't see many more people even trying. What is it to any of us to wait a couple of years. Hell, I'll wait ten -- twenty years if I have to. But every journey begins with a single step.
    • Re:With Moller... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by edwardpickman (965122) on Friday August 31, 2007 @01:22AM (#20421405)
      I wondered back in the 80s if he was for real or a scam artist but I have no doubt he's for real. He has spent a fortune of his own money and there has been a lot of development. The car has two major problems. First it's nearly impossible to do what he's trying but it looks like he finally has a nearly functional one so scam is a mighty strong word. The second issue is the odds are near zero of the FAA approving them anytime in the near future. They can't even get the insurance company to allow them to test it without the tether. From what I gather he's 95% there having a working prototype but they are on the razor edge of loosing it all. Releasing the saucer version was a desperate act to keep the company a float and legitimate. I have serious doubts of the skycar ever being approved for the average citizen. That doesn't make Moller a scam artist it makes him a dreamer. Sadly he may be shooting himself in the foot. All it takes is one moron doing something stupid in one of the saucers and the lawyers will eat his company for lunch. "Gee you didn't specially tell me flying a surface effect vehicle off a clift was a bad idea, give me money." Really it's a hovercraft that can fly 10' instead of 6". Cool but the potential for disaster is high. My fear would be wind flipping one. 10' is still enough head first to kill you.
      • by smellsofbikes (890263) on Friday August 31, 2007 @10:00AM (#20424895) Journal
        Do it as an experimental. Sell kits that have 45% of the work finished, and detailed instructions, and let the new owner finish it, register it as an experimental, and go. The FAA still has to issue an airworthiness certificate, but the threshold for getting an AC is far, far lower than for getting FAA type approval. Plus people feel like they're getting a deal, so they're more likely to buy.

        I think the problem is: where do you go to get instruction? You're not legally allowed to fly these things without a pilot certificate coz they weigh too much to fit into ultralight categories, and more critically, they're a different type of certificate. To fly a Moeller or the like, you need instruction in 'powered lift' not 'fixed wing' or 'helicopter' or even 'autogyro' -- and there are precisely two 'powered lift' vehicles in existence, the Moeller and the Osprey V-22. Nobody has flown a Moeller, and the only Ospreys are being flown by US military and Boeing/Vertol research/design people. There are no instructors and as such there is no way to get instruction, so the market for an aircraft you're not legally allowed to fly is pretty slim. Moeller has to get a dozen of these things built and four dozen certified flight instructors trained up -- when nobody has any idea of what constitutes a certified flight instructor for powered lift -- before there will be a market for his machines. IF they ever actually work.
    • Moller should go into the hot air balloon industry if his intent is VTOL. His current ventures are enough of a speaming pile of sh*t to make any balloon fly.. Scam all around.

      It's amazing that after 30 years of scam he has not been sued out of existence yet.
  • by Jeff DeMaagd (2015) on Thursday August 30, 2007 @11:53PM (#20420911) Homepage Journal
    The Skycar has been in the works for decades with barely anything to show for it. There are too many stories that just talk about the positive future that it supposedly represents when it's been a boondoggle so far. There was even action against Moller by the SEC.
  • hmm (Score:2, Insightful)

    If the development of this vehicle is as rapid as that of the automobile or the aircraft, expect to see wide-spread use in another 20 years or so.
  • Skycar (Score:5, Interesting)

    by mugnyte (203225) on Thursday August 30, 2007 @11:59PM (#20420945) Journal
    Moller's been pushing this nonsense since his first snowmobile engine modifications in the 70's. He has been collecting investment money for decades promising VTOL vehicles to the masses. There's a whole sky full of problems with this. First, getting into the sky is a series of tests and checks and licenses here in the US because, essentially, many people don't really want every Tom Dick and Harry flying over our heads. The skies are a-crowded already, from a management point of view.

      Second, while the technology may be sound and there were doubters to the helicopter and "aeroplane" alike, this design seems a bit more like rocketry than either of the prior two. Ducted or directed fan technology is hugely inefficient compared to wing technology. Coolness aside, there's something of an "experimental" quality of these machines that they cannot seem to shake. If I'm watching YouTube videos of the Moller employees coming and going in these contraptions, then perhaps my doubts will be alleviated, but until then, I keep picturing a screwball in an oversized frisbee darting over the park and eventually plowing into the trees.
    • by b0s0z0ku (752509)
      First, getting into the sky is a series of tests and checks and licenses here in the US because, essentially, many people don't really want every Tom Dick and Harry flying over our heads.

      For a VFR pilot's ticket, you need around 40 hrs of training. In most states, you're supposed to have 50+ hrs of behind the wheel time under a permit before you get your car license. If the flying cars are sufficiently automated, training requirements may also be relaxed if safety can be proven.

      -b.

      • by mugnyte (203225)

          That crane in the background proves it's safety to me. 1 year away from "fly saucers everywhere" and the owner of the company won't take it out for a demo ride? S C A M
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by KylePflug (898555)
        You're SUPPOSED TO have 50+ hours of behind the wheel time. A VFR pilot is REQUIRED to take an oral and written examination, the checkride, renew every two years, keep immaculate records, and oh yeah -- those 40 hours are grueling by comparison.

        Is flying impossibly difficult to learn? No. But I've been driving cars (on private roads) since I was nine years old, motorcycles since I was 11. An airplane, especially for a "casual" flyer, is exponentially more complex to own, operate, and maintain, and the sky i
    • by b0s0z0ku (752509)
      Ducted or directed fan technology is hugely inefficient compared to wing technology.

      AFAIK, the fans swivel and are only directed vertically at takeoff. During flight, they're positioned horizontally and the vehicle relies on two sets of wings to stay aloft.

      -b.

      • by mugnyte (203225)

        I'm not quite seeing the wings working at speeds under WayWayFast. Realize that the highest investigation of efficiency, maneuverability and speed has gone into combat aircraft, and I simply don't see the Moller Skycar turning in any direction in a small radius. Think of modern fighter jets, where they need control surfaces to pull themselves around turns. Moller needs to push with fans instead.

        Even the V-22 Osprey [wikipedia.org] had a long development time, but in the end did not deviate far from either heli o
    • One of the biggest problem with the Moller sky car is that it has no glide ratio--and no margin of safety during an engine failure. Even helicopters can land without power by going into "auto rotation." The Moller sky rock cannot.

      While the sky car could use a rocket launched parachute like those used by some paraglider pilots, those don't help unless you have some altitude for it to deploy and decelerate your fall. Moller has been sucking up venture capitol for decades but he is to flying cars as Lyndon Lar
  • I have been following this guy for about 7 years or so. I have been waiting for this to come to market. Although the last I heard, the projected price was supposed to be around 60k instead of 30k. I guess they were trying to get it certified to drive without a difficult to get license at one time.

    My understanding is that it is relatively good on fuel too. They were talking about it on an Art Bell program years ago when Art actually was on it. I guess fully loaded it get better fuel economy per passenger the
  • The only issue I foresee would be allowing the average mom and pop trying to hover around houses, buildings even at only 10 feet without any piloting experience. Surely you wouldn't want to have 2 layers of traffic on a set of lights (one on the ground and one hovering above the "normal" traffic below). Imagine what would happen in the event of an engine failure. Maybe recalibrating the dilithium matrix would work?
    • by ziggyboy (232080)
      Also, I wonder how many turn signal directions will be available? 8 perhaps. Up, down, left, right, top-left, top-right, bottom-left and bottom-right.
      • by mugnyte (203225)

          add in a few more degrees of freedom, dude. Like a sphere's worth of lights.
      • by fractoid (1076465)
        Well, for starters, as anyone here could confidently tell you, this thing is unlikely to see the light of day. I have the same Popular Mechanics magazine that an above poster mentioned, and it read very similarly to TFA.

        That aside, if by some breakthrough of physics or whatever, flying cars DO become viable - this is an example of a situation where augmented reality has a chance to shine. Imagine sitting in your personal aircraft, in a busy sky, with all the craft around you showing their intended flight
    • by ArcherB (796902) *
      Surely you wouldn't want to have 2 layers of traffic on a set of lights (one on the ground and one hovering above the "normal" traffic below)

      Well, I could imagine something like East/West traffic travels on the ground while the North/South traffic travels in the air. This could eliminate traffic lights, stop signs, the works! However, it does add a new dimension to making a right turn.
      • Not so much, I think. You'd just land or start hovering before you make the turn. Worst case, you leave the traffic lights, and stop traffic when someone wants to turn -- which is a lot better than stopping it just to allow through traffic going the other way.
        • by ArcherB (796902) *
          Not so much, I think. You'd just land or start hovering before you make the turn. Worst case, you leave the traffic lights, and stop traffic when someone wants to turn -- which is a lot better than stopping it just to allow through traffic going the other way.

          I was thinking something more along the lines of:
          Left Turn, 20 Feet
          Right Turn Ground level
          North/South 30 Feet
          East/West 10 Feet.

          Who knows. I don't think it's going to be anything we have to worry about for years. Besides, where are you going to turn
  • by ArcherB (796902) * on Friday August 31, 2007 @12:05AM (#20420977) Journal
    The only way I could see this working is if they work out a few infrastructure challenges. For starters, the article mentions that you won't be able to fly one over 10 feet without a pilot's license. 10 Feet won't get you over some pickups, much less off the highways. Next, how do you work out right of way, parking and so on. These are challenges that will be difficult to overcome even IF flying cars were readily available.

    Next is safety. While cars have been pretty focused on protecting their occupants, this takes that to a whole new dimension. A stall is no longer just an inconvenience, but a high probability that you are going to die. What about the people on the ground that you crash into? How many car wrecks are there in an average size city. Now imaging that for each of these wrecks, you have a heavy, flammable piece of metal, glass and plastic falling to the ground! It would seem to me that the only way to make these things remotely safe would be to equip them not only with a parachute, but with airbags on the outside to protect those that are going to be in their homes beneath these things!

    Economy. With all the current focus on global warming, dwindling oil supplies, wars in the middle east etc, I don't see how flying cars will help alleviate any of these problems. As a matter of fact, I see the exact opposite happening! Could you imagine what would happen to the demand for energy if half the auto's on the road were not flying over it!

    Of course, these issues are just a few issues that my ignorant-ass can come up with in a few minutes. I'm sure that there are problems that real life engineers haven't even dreamed of yet! So I'm afraid that building a flying car will be the easy part.

    • I'd be more interested in the problem being solved by a new technical approach rather than by an application of brute-foce technology we already have mostly sussed out (except for the control systems, but that's just micro-SCADA to be worked out). Anyone have a take on Drexler's (I think it was Drexler's) "fan cloth" idea? Wings don't have to be solid lumps in cross section in order to provide lift. Bazillions of nano-sized engines that capture individual air molecules at random vectors and send them dow
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Vampyre_Dark (630787)
      Exactly. Who wants to think that at any second, some flying car could come falling out of the sky and landing directly on you? It would make a small crater.

      Until we have flying buildings, we don't need flying cars to get where we are going.
    • Races between these vehicles would be... spectacular.
  • WRONG PICTURE! (Score:2, Informative)

    There is nothing new about this except the proposed release date... this item has been in widely-advertised development for many years. Further, the picture accompanying the article is not of the Flying Saucer. That is a picture of the Sky Car. That one is not being released yet (and may never be).
  • ...hot alien babes?

    ...a cup holder?

    ...a flying cup?

    ...tea?

    ...an application for a Darwin award?

  • by clarkkent09 (1104833) on Friday August 31, 2007 @12:57AM (#20421253)
    What good is hovering 10ft above the ground, except for fun. How do you get from home to work in this thing?

    Surely you can't fly over people's backyards so you'll have to follow the roads. 10ft is too low to get you over trucks so you won't be able to fly over the traffic easily, so you'll just have to follow the traffic like in a car except for the temptation to skip over low cars and cut across corners etc. while avoiding the power lines, overpasses etc.

    No way will this thing ever be legal unless the whole infrastructure and traffic laws are changed to accommodate which ain't gonna happen either. So, what good is it?
    • by Dunbal (464142)
      Surely you can't fly over people's backyards

            Why not?

      10ft is too low to get you over trucks

            But you can maneuver around them.

            And perhaps you could argue that you fly at 10 ft, and occasionally move up to 20-30ft to avoid traffic...

      • by jcr (53032)
        Why not?

        Because flying at 100 feet over someone's house is already a violation of FAA rules in most areas.

        -jcr
    • by wikinerd (809585)

      How do you get from home to work in this thing?

      It really strikes me odd that people in the 21st century seek new ways to get from home to work when in the majority of cases (at least in the IT) they can simply get the work to their home. Even heard of telework?

  • by aero2600-5 (797736) on Friday August 31, 2007 @01:01AM (#20421269)
    While I agree with all the skeptics, having read about this same damn car years ago, some of the skepticism is unfounded.

    Moller may never produce a 'flying car', but someone will eventually.

    When that flying car hits the market, it will likely be little different than when the first automobiles we're being sold. There were no parking spots in front of the general store, only places to tie up your horse. As more of these are sold, more spots to park them will become available. More gasoline/diesel stations will accommodate them as well. It will be slow. There won't be any real regulation of them for a while, but that won't stop people from using them. And these will likely be flying deathtraps for a while. So was the car for the first two decades of it's life. Same for the train when we started laying tracks everywhere we could find a place for them but couldn't design brakes worth a shit. As dangerous as these flying cars may be, people will fly them.

    If I could afford one, I would buy it to fly it to work everyday. It would be easy for me; I'd just follow the river. The first automobiles were not utilities, they were novelties, just like the flying car will be when someone eventually manages to start selling them.

    Aero
    • As dangerous as these flying cars may be, people will fly them.

      Will people be allowed to fly them? If you're not on or near a road, you're safe from drunken teens in mechanically unsound cars crashing into you. The same cannot be said with flying cars.
  • This company is all about raising successive rounds of venture capital. Where are the demonstrations of the thing WORKING (as in flying in complex, controlled and safe maneuvers)? What a joke these guys are.
  • Not sure if it's VTOL, but...

    Step one: permanently affix chair to car. Any car will do.

    Step two: place conspicuously in Ballmer's office just before an Apple media event.

    Step three: there is no step three!
  • In other news... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Derek Loev (1050412)
    I'm not holding my breath for this one, I learned my lesson from The Phantom [wikipedia.org] .
  • A short commissioned by Jay Leno, Dante and Randal were demanding a flying car [viewaskew.com] in 2002. Watch this if you've never seen it.
  • Below is a link to a video of a Russian production facility that asserts to show a flying saucer design to be commercialized soon http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gjBiy2nikBI [youtube.com]. Not your usual blurry UFO video...
  • The BBC report shows the 400 Skycar, while the 200 looks more like a saucer shape. They must need more investors after spending so much money without a successful product.
  • I much prefer... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by das_magpie (1149995) on Friday August 31, 2007 @02:37AM (#20421753)
    I really like the look of the Entecho Flying Saucer [entecho.com.au] looks nice and apparently is going to retail for only 30,000 AUD I heard an interview with one of the designers who claims it will be on sale to the public with in 3 years. Unfortunately it will be limited to climb to 1.8 meters off the ground for safety reasons and only seats one person how ever the plus side to this is there is a good chance it will become a registered road worthy vehicle in Australia. Perfect for cruising over the tough corrugated roads we have here in Australia.
  • Dupe! (Score:4, Informative)

    by valentyn (248783) on Friday August 31, 2007 @02:42AM (#20421765) Homepage
    Well, joking. http://slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=05/10/01/014821 0 [slashdot.org] had an article about the first skycar being for sale, but the rebuttals for their technology are to be found in the comments, http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=163945&cid=136 93215 [slashdot.org] and http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=163945&cid=136 92203 [slashdot.org] for example (but the others make a good read as well).
  • by Leo Sasquatch (977162) on Friday August 31, 2007 @04:42AM (#20422335)
    Not because of any engineering difficulties, although I'm sure there's no shortage of those. Engineering difficulties can and will always be overcome. Someone will develop a better fuel, a lighter/stronger material, a more elegant design. The real reason these will never happen is because there is no way any government will ever let their citizens have the freedom of the 3rd dimension. The Solotrek looked very promising until an accident with a safety tether caused a crash (note, not a failure on the part of the machine!). Paranoiacs wishing to generate conspiracy theories about this incident are of course welcome to do so.

    Go read Bob Shaw's 'Vertigo' for some idea of what happens to a society where personal human flight is commonplace. Borders become meaningless, passports doubly so. Criminals are going to love these things - how do you set up a roadblock in the sky? And also, no matter how carefully you build the vehicle to be safe, and easy to pilot, the human element will always be a factor.

    "People who were in a hurry tended to switch off their lights to avoid detection and fly straight to where they were going, regardless of the air corridors. The chances of colliding with another illegal traveller were vanishingly small, they told themselves, but it was not only occasional salesmen late for appointments who flew wild. There were the drunks and the druggies, the antisocial, the careless, the suicidal, the thrill-seekers, the criminal - a whole spectrum of types who were unready for the responsibilities of personal flight, in whose hands a counter-gravity harness could become an instrument of death."

Nothing will dispel enthusiasm like a small admission fee. -- Kim Hubbard

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