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Last Sky Commuter For Sale On eBay 189

Posted by kdawson
from the still-waiting dept.
DeltaV900 writes to alert us to an auction on eBay of the last Sky Commuter concept car. About 7 hours remain in the auction and the top bid at this writing is $55,100. The seller (with some help from posters in the auction forum) makes clear that the thing won't actually fly, and in fact never did. Other Sky Commuters may have hovered. This one traveled around to air shows and trade fairs.
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Last Sky Commuter For Sale On eBay

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  • He had to commute in this thing.
  • There's a lot of esoterica in my closets, to be sure--but who would want a failure like this?  It'd be like driving a nail into your palm every time you saw it, because you would really, really like a real flying car.
    • by wish bot (265150) on Monday January 14, 2008 @04:59AM (#22032664)
      Well, a museum would probably like it, and then every dreamer could go and gawk at it (or in your case - opt for crucifixion - ouch!).


      I find it really strange that the seller didn't start by contacting various institutions rather than putting it on ebay. There's something quite fishy about his descriptions - he first tries to suggest that it does actually fly, then tries to say "well, it will hover", and then adds another correction saying HE installed some electric motors and the thing will not generate any lift what-so-ever. He also admits to messing with other parts of the machine (like he was trying to restore it, but doesn't give any real details as to what qualities he was trying to restore to/against).

      I know this will sound really harsh - but judging by the guys atrocious writing, the car is better of with ANYBODY else as he's a complete nut.

      • Sounds like:

        "He's a menace to himself and everything else in the air... Yes, birds too."
      • by Lumpy (12016)
        You are not in the world of exotic and strange cars, this kind of behavior is common. Actually I'm betting the guy is pissed he is only getting the low bids and was expecting a million or more from it. These guys thing they are sitting on a goldmine when in reality they are sitting on a nicely polished turd. Most of these "kitcars" or "custom things" are actually very poorly built or delicate, and if not maintained carefully and kept indoors they end up basket cases.

        all y ou need to do is look at the cus
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by calyphus (646665)

          these "kitcars" or "custom things" are actually very poorly built or delicate

          This isn't a kit, or your average startup concept project. This is a Boeing working prototype. It's much different from a simple kit or customized project.

          However, it's interesting that Boeing's Museum of Flight has another mfr's prop driven commuter carplane in it's collection rather than this.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      Probably the same type of person that changes his fonts in a web forum post.
    • It's like, how could someone sell an OS that despite billions in R&D and years of patches would never do what it was intended to? What fool would buy such a thing? I feel sorry for anyone who would invest in such a company.
    • I don't know, but I wish someone would slashdot my auctions. I have an old Cisco ISDN router to sell... Think I can get 10k?
  • I can remember... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Bin_jammin (684517) <Binjammin@gmail.com> on Monday January 14, 2008 @04:01AM (#22032416)
    way back to junior high school when he was hawking these things, then every year or three they'd pop up again, "the wave of the future" blah, blah, blah... I had a roommate that was gonzo over them when he first heard of the concept about 4 years ago. "Oh man, it's going to be so cool, you'll be able to fly to work." etc... He never quite got the reasoning of all the skeptics of the idea, like what happens when you run out of gas or have an accident in the air? Maybe we can finally put these disasters-in-the-making to rest, until the technology is available to make them something more than a stupid sci-fi pipe dream...
    • Re:I can remember... (Score:5, Informative)

      by Mantaar (1139339) on Monday January 14, 2008 @04:26AM (#22032524) Homepage
      I totally agree with you. Pilots have to be 100% sober, have no criminal records, good sight (without the use of glasses), and pass a billion other tests. Flying around in mid-air is not quite like driving on the road. You have to keep track of wind, other flying vehicles, obstacles - and you have virtually no guidance (like roads). And when you make a mistake, you loose hard. Not only you, in fact, but everyone around you, too.

      Flying vehicles are too much of a risk to let them be guided by humans - you have to have some kind of computer controlled system that will mostly operate this thing for you while also keeping track of other vehicles.

      There are ideas to bring this kind of design to the road, but they've not matured yet. When we're able to control conventional traffic fully via computer systems, we may start thinking of inventing something flyable. I imagine that, just like with the transition from horses to cars, those flying cars would initially be using conventional roads (perhaps adding another layer on top of them - so we could stack highways instead of ruining the landscape with 6 or 8 lanes of asphalt) and only later have some special 'air-roads' for themselves, when the idea becomes more dominant.

      I don't think I'll ever be driving such a thing, but perhaps my kids?
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by owlnation (858981)

        Pilots have to be 100% sober, have no criminal records, good sight (without the use of glasses), and pass a billion other tests. Flying around in mid-air is not quite like driving on the road. You have to keep track of wind, other flying vehicles, obstacles - and you have virtually no guidance (like roads). And when you make a mistake, you loose hard. Not only you, in fact, but everyone around you, too.

        You're right. But... during my entire private pilot's license test I was thinking, "why isn't this the s

        • by Rogerborg (306625)
          That's a great idea, but since pilots won't work for bus driver money, that means the rest of us will have to cycle to work. Sure, you get a really quick commute to the airport, but you'll lose that time in cleaning the blood, mangled spokes and scraps of spandex off of your car.
          • That's a great idea, but since pilots won't work for bus driver money
            Havn't met many pilots, have you? Try asking an instructor at your local airport just how much (s)he makes.
        • In the first place, I'd like to clarify. Pilots do not need perfect vision, I've been a pilot for over 25 years, and my uncorrected vision hasn't qualified me to *drive a car* without glasses in all that time. My reliance on glasses for mild myopia and astigmatism wasn't a problem.

          Secondly, you *can* get a pilots license for the same qualifications as a driver's license. Not a Private Pilot's license but a Sport Pilot license. In fact, presenting a valid state driver's license plus a signed statement tha

      • by Lumpy (12016)
        good sight (without the use of glasses),

        really? then how do I have a pilots license? I need glasses I am nearsighted so without them I might as well be flying in zero visibility.

        Lots of people that need glasses to see have their pilots license, I suggest you update your information.
      • by paiute (550198)
        On the subject of pilots keeping their cool under stress, I came across this blog entry

        http://urbanparamedic.blogspot.com/search?q=helipad/ [blogspot.com]
      • by SirGarlon (845873)

        I don't think I'll ever be driving such a thing, but perhaps my kids?

        There is a large energy cost just to getting a car/plane airborne. Given that crude oil just hit $100 a barrel for the first time, I doubt the benefits of flying cars will ever justify the costs -- especially when one considers air pollution/greenhouse gas emissions.

        Maybe we'll see them for some special applications, like ambulances, where money is no object; but having your own flying car will probably remain a pipe dream due to the

      • by LWATCDR (28044)
        "I totally agree with you. Pilots have to be 100% sober, have no criminal records, good sight (without the use of glasses), and pass a billion other tests."
        Not exactly. You can wear glasses and get your pilot's license. Also you don't have to pass a billion other tests. Learning to fly isn't all that hard. It is expensive but not all that hard. The FAA has even started to make it cheaper and easier with the new sport pilot license. You can only fly light two place aircraft in good weather but the planes cos
      • I don't know how many of you have a Master's or PhD in Computer Science, but the air traffic control problem is a NP-hard problem. Basically, this means that, in high population areas where you would have thousands of cars flying in all directions, there isn't a computer system in the world that could control all of those cars. Yes, there are solutions that would allow for quite a few cars at one time (SIMD machines with multi-dimensional memory, for example), but I do not beleive that there is a solution a
        • by _Sharp'r_ (649297)

          Basically, this means that, in high population areas where you would have thousands of cars flying in all directions, there isn't a computer system in the world that could control all of those cars.

          There's also isn't a computer system in the world that can control the routing for all of the packets in the internet, yet somehow they get to their destination.

          Perhaps you haven't considered that there are other ways to do traffic control besides having a central authority controlling every vehicle?

          All a comput

      • by JWSmythe (446288) *
        Ummm, if I remember right, it's 20/20 vision corrected. The military requires 20/20 uncorrected.

        The rest I agree with. :)

        I've flown a little bit. It's a lot of fun, but even with a few planes in the air, I've seen some almost incidents. Like, what happens when one plane is landing (approach at approx 65 knots), and another plane taxis onto the runway for takeoff... Oh ya, everyone sh1ts themselves.

        Before they could make this work, the FAA would have to ado
      • Another way to look at why flying cars are a bad idea: 50,000+ people per year die crashing non-flying cars. Imagine what that number would be like with flying cars!
        • by torkus (1133985)
          Yes but many many more people DON'T die when getting into a non-flying car accidents.

          Immagine if the penalty for running up a curb while putting on your makeup was death? Wow ... the wonders we'd do for the gene pool! :) Oh, and sorry to the guy in the other flying car who served as the 'flying curb'. But hey, lrn2dodge, k?

          Seriously - just make all flying cars (when we have them, sic) automatic control in any sort of populated area. Automatic controll is far easier when you eliminate the unknowns of oth
      • You know you can solo a plane with only 20 hours of flight time, correct? That's less time then most teenagers have to log with their parents driving before they get a driver's license.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Hognoxious (631665)

      what happens when you run out of gas
      There are at least two options, the better of which is probably gliding [wikipedia.org].
      • by QuantumG (50515) <qg@biodome.org> on Monday January 14, 2008 @05:17AM (#22032742) Homepage Journal
        The other option is the one that I practice with my current ground car.. I keep my eye on the fuel gauge and fill up when it gets low.

        Seriously, can't we assume just a *little* bit of intelligence on behalf of the driver? Oh, wait, we're talking about Americans aren't we.

        • by jamesh (87723)
          My last car (Holden Commodore ~2002 model) had a problem where the fuel level sender unit would fail in such a way that you'd be out of fuel when the gauge said 1/4 full. Obviously you'd learn to take that into account. The second time.

          There is a reason that aircraft are subject to slightly stricter rules than ground based vehicles.
          • by QuantumG (50515)
            Yeah, in Australia, such a vehicle would be considered unroadworthy.. seeing as most no-one drives Holdens except Australians, I gotta ask, where'd you get your bodgy roadworthy from? :)

            • by jamesh (87723)

              Yeah, in Australia, such a vehicle would be considered unroadworthy

              That's just the point. It might be unroadworthy _after_ it developed the fault. But if it developed the fault and the first time it was noticed (eg you ran out of fuel) was 'crossing' (eg flying over) a busy highway, then you can point your finger and say 'unroadworthy' all you like, it won't make any difference.

              As it happened, the fault was fixed under warranty (it was apparently a common problem of Commodores of that era)

          • by CastrTroy (595695)
            So my sibling poster mentions that your car is not roadworthy. And whether or not it is, it brings up a good point. Many people drive around in very mechanically unsound vehicles. Now just imagine if all those cars were flying. It would be insane. They'd be dropping out of the sky left right and centre.
        • Seriously, can't we assume just a *little* bit of intelligence on behalf of the driver? Oh, wait, we're talking about humans aren't we.

          Fixed that for ya.

      • Thanks for the link. I love the bit about the engineers van running out of fuel. My dad is a glider pilot and has long insisted that this makes him a better powered plane pilot as well.
      • by Dan East (318230)
        Obviously you've never watched Bugs Bunny cartoons. When you run out of gas you either come to a complete stop [archive.org], or you simply use the air brakes [aol.com].

        Dan East
    • You are confusing this with the Moller SkyCrap. This was closer to the real deal 18 years ago then Moller will ever be.
    • by CastrTroy (595695)
      It seems like a lot of trouble to go through, when you could solve 99% of the worlds traffic problem with a small sensor on the front of each vehicle to allow the vehicle to sense the movement of the car directly in front of them. This would be useful at red lights. The red light turns green, and all the cars that were stopped at the light, start to move at once. Instead of waiting 10 seconds for the one 10 cars back to start moving, they all start moving instantly, or within a second.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by ishmaelflood (643277)
        Oddly enough that's what they do in the UK. The lights go green, everyone who can see the traffic light hits the loud pedal, and at least starts to roll. I was slightly astonished to find that Australian drivers don't do this. There again they are so unskillful that they'd probably crash into each other. On the other hand Australians d at least treat the amber light with the contempt it deserves. ObStarman.

        • Oddly enough that's what they do in the UK. The lights go green, everyone who can see the traffic light hits the loud pedal

          It's probably because of the sequencing; it goes from red to red-and-yellow-together for around 1 to 2 seconds before turning green. It's enough time for most competent drivers to get in gear and drop the handbrake.

          In Belgium for instance it doesn't work like that, so you basically have to hold it on the clutch and footbrake unless you want some dick to run into you (or at least, hoot

          • by gfxguy (98788)
            In the U.S. it's not a matter of being forewarned the light is about to change, because that still only works when the driver is paying attention. The problem is the lattes, cellphones, stereos, in dash DVD players, magazines, newspapers, putting on makeup, eating, drinking, conversing, and just general incompetence of drivers.

            Where I live traffic is really bad, one of the worst places in the U.S., and yet I think traffic could be at least 33%, if not 50% better if drivers would just pay attention and stop
      • by Tony Hoyle (11698)
        There would still be a delay because the safe distance at 30mph is totally different to the safe distance when stopped. Within a second is completely unrealistic. All it would stop is the idiot who takes 30 seconds to realize that the car in front has gone... but you can get pretty close to optimal already if the queue is seasoned drivers (eg. evenings after work, when the drive once a week crowd aren't usually out).

        Such systems as you describe are in commercial deployment btw. - it's called adaptive crui
        • by CastrTroy (595695)
          That's why they need to start putting real bumpers back on cars. Ones that can actually take a little bump.
      • by netsharc (195805)
        Just like in motor racing (at least those without rolling starts, e.g. Formula One): the lights go green and all the cars accelerate as one... I agree it would be a lot more efficient, but then the grandpa in the car in front of you might not be an F1-driver. If he waits just a bit too long you'll run into him.. Maybe you can just leave more distance to the car in front when stopping. But then again if you notice the car in front of you isn't moving, you brake, and a moment later the car behind you notices
    • by pcgabe (712924)

      I can remember... way back to junior high school when he was hawking these things, then every year or three they'd pop up again, "the wave of the future" blah, blah, blah...
      I believe you are confusing this with the Moller Skycar. [moller.com]
  • This is a neat concept car. Out of everything I've heard about, the most likely to actually make it to the market is the Terrafugia Transition [terrafugia.com], which is aimed at people who have both drivers' and pilots' licenses. Not VTOL, but more realistic too.

    --
    Educational microcontroller kits for the digital generation. [nerdkits.com]
  • by ForestGrump (644805) on Monday January 14, 2008 @04:03AM (#22032432) Homepage Journal
    I looked over the fleabay posting and can't find the VIN for the car. If someone found it could you PLEASE reply to this so I can do a quick carfax report?

    Thanks
    Grump

    PS Does anyone have a carfax account to run the check for me?
  • If it were for sale there would be a 'Buy It Now' option. There is a difference. Or is it that no-one cares anymore?
    • by houghi (78078)
      For Auction is For Sale. For Sale is not For Auction.
      • by IBBoard (1128019)
        Or, to put it mathematically (without the aid of mathematical symbols or a safety net), auctions are a subset of sales where the price is determined by the highest bidder as opposed to determined before advertising, but sales are not a subset of auctions.
        • by CastrTroy (595695)
          I'm not too up-to-date on my set theory, but are there any weird mathematical instances where A is a subset of B, and B is a subset of A? It seems like it would be impossible, unless A and B are equal sets (and therefore not subsets).
          • by IBBoard (1128019)

            unless A and B are equal sets (and therefore not subsets)

            Well, in that case they are subsets but they're "complete subsets" (I think that was the term) i.e. a subset that contains all of the superset.
  • by user24 (854467) on Monday January 14, 2008 @04:42AM (#22032576) Homepage
    I really think this belongs in a museum.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Will not buy again! Flying car did not fly as advertised! A--!
  • d'uh (Score:3, Funny)

    by habbi (991628) on Monday January 14, 2008 @04:50AM (#22032618)
    someone please edit the tag, it should read !transportation
  • Duke Nukem Forever is to Vapourware as Skycar is to......
  • by jcr (53032) <jcr.mac@com> on Monday January 14, 2008 @06:27AM (#22033012) Journal
    With modern computer control, it should be possible to stabilize a three-fan system like that. What I would wonder though, is how efficient it could be in forward flight, having very little in the way of effective wing area.

    -jcr
    • by cmat (152027)
      One I noted when I looked at the 3-fan design, is that if you have problems with any of th fans, you're in alot of trouble as there is no redundancy (especially for the front fan, but I'd bet it would be extremely unlikely that loss of a rear fan could be compensated for by the other rear fan). Very bad failure mode...
      • by LWATCDR (28044)
        I would say a ballistic parachute is the only answer.
        I have been an EAA member since I was 12 and that was a long time ago. When people ask me about this or the Skycar I tell them the same thing.
        Until I see that it flew as Oshkosh it isn't real.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    The guy who's selling it, Steven Stull, makes aircraft mock ups. See the pages here [airwolf.tv] and here [wordunspoken.com] for a full size model of the Airwolf he build for a museum.
  • I can't wait to see widespread adoption of flying commuter vehicles. Then we'll get to see public buildings protected from suicide bombers not just by concrete walls or metal fences, but giant cages covering them completely. Or maybe they'll just install flak cannons.
  • From the ebay listing:

    This Sky Commuter and all it's R&D and any copyrights go with this aircraft.

    I doubt that that is true. Surely Boeing own the "copyrights" to their research, and I wouldn't expect to see that kind of thing go on ebay.
  • I saw it on TV quite recently. It's from a specialist hovercraft builder in, I think, Illinois who builds small one man hovercraft. He has found that by fitting small wings, he can get ground effect lift (shouldn't that be water effect lift? Oh well) and fly over a lake at an altitude of a meter or so. Over 3 meters you apparently need a pilot's licence. It looks surprisingly similar to this skycar, except that it's red. And either it works or that was the most realistic bit of CGI I have ever seen. And I w
  • I was in 7th or 8th grade at the time and my dad had a subscription to Sport Aviation. I wrote and received the technical sales information. I always wondered what happened to this product and company. I still have those CAD drawings of the ducted fans and the views of the vehicle. Too bad they couldn't get more traction.

    On the other hand, I look at the way people drive and shudder to think about any moron flying one of these things. It was an interesting concept, but I don't want my neighbor taking of
  • by hipsterdufus (42989) on Monday January 14, 2008 @10:18AM (#22034764)
    Have you ever seen:

    A car accident?
    A broken-down car beside the road?
    Aggressive driving?
    Drunk driving?
    Cars with the left blinker on endlessly?
    Cars with broken head/tail lights?
    Cars doing 60+ mph on the space-saver spare?

    Now, can imagine all this happening even 20 feet in the air? Disaster.

    The flying car already exists and it is called a helicopter. If you think you can fly a helicopter without weeks upon weeks of training, then go buy one and start commuting.
  • It sold for US $131,700.00
  • The auction ended with the price doubling in the last 20 minutes. It sold for $131,700.00
  • by Animats (122034) on Monday January 14, 2008 @12:09PM (#22036258) Homepage

    There are two fundamental problems with flying cars. First, reciprocating engines aren't quite powerful enough, and small turbojets cost too much. Second, they're unstable. Both problems could be solved, yielding an expensive but workable flying car.

    The engine is the big problem. People have been trying to downsize jet engines for decades. Small ones can be built, but once you get below small bizjet size, they don't get much cheaper. That's why general aviation is still running on pistons. A flying car in the $2 million range is probably feasible, but the market is limited and the engineering costs are high.

    Stability is partly a control system problem and partly an actuator problem. How do you exert attitude control in hover? Adjusting the fan speed of multiple fans is too slow. Adjusting blade pitch cyclically, like a helicopter, requires cramming all the machinery of a helicopter hub into each fan hub. VTOL jet fighters have been successful, sort of. The Harrier diverts about 10% of its jet thrust to attitude jets in hover, which yields quick control, but the Harrier has plenty of jet thrust to play with. The F-35 fighter has a steerable nozzle in the tail, a lift fan in the middle, slats under the fan, pitch nozzles in the wings, roll nozzles in the nose, doors to cover all this gear, and enough computer power to manage it. Even with all that, it's a marginal VTOL craft. The USSR tried several VTOL fighter designs over the years, but none of them worked very well. The Harrier variants are the only real success to date.

    The Sky Commuter was an exercise in weight reduction; it weighs about 400 pounds. That's one approach, but it didn't work.

  • Without reading up on this, I know that this thing must be inoperable (from a practicality standpoint), but still I wonder what kind of insurance policy the owner must put on this thing. Collectables/property insurance is my guess, but imagine how much it would cost if it were insured as an auto or a plane.

    Oblig:
    I hope Boeing provided a good warrenty for it!
  • You would need a sophisticated autopilot guidance system with traffic detection and a lot of computer control over the flight of the aircar. You would need to discourgage/disable manual control while in flight to keep all aircar traffic flowing in a predictable way/avoid having really nasty accidents because the little old lady piloting the purple air-car forgot her glasses at the bingo parlor... You need a system that would need to be proven to be safe and reliable for a long time before it gets adopted

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