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Latest Toy: One-Man Helicopter 173

treble writes, "Of course the military has had these playthings for ages, but The New York Times is running an AP story about a Japanese 'Compact Copter' for general consumption. It's become my newest wish-I-could-afford-it toy. The coolest things of note: No license required in the U.S., and top speed of 60 mph. Imagine a swarm of these things rising in the air for rush hour commute." All I can say is that the traffic jams would be ... interesting.
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Latest Toy: One-Man Helicopter

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    It autorotates by driving the blades through a differential. An electric motor changes the relative speed of the two props by driving the differntial. That creates torque to autorotate. And it has an electronic compass to prevent unwanted autorotation.

    And sheesh, it's got four engines. You can fly it on three and do a controlled-descent on two.

    Didn't you read their web pages?? Or were you in such a hurry to get frist post??

  • by Anonymous Coward
    These things have been around for years as experimental or ultralight aircraft which do not require a license to operate. There are some strict guidelines for the operation of ultralight aircraft, though, under the FAA's FAR 103 regulations. These specify several limitations, the ones relevant to this conversation are: 1) the aircraft may not fly over any cloud cover, and 2) the aircraft may not be flown over any populated areas.

    Now I'm not sure how this type aircraft would be classified (ultralight? experimental?) but I wouldn't count on using it to commute to work everyday (unless you live in the desert and work at Area 51). Regardless of the rules I've always wanted one of these things, so I'm just saving my pennies so I can get my hands on one.

  • Thanks, that was a useful responce. Someone should moderate that up to +5.

    Really..... I'd like to know if something like this might be an option for getting around, especially short distances during the day. I'm fairly confident my eyesight is adequate for it (and if it wasn't, I'd quit using it REALLY quick).
  • I suppose you have to have perfect vision to use one of these things, right? Or maybe not...

    My corrected vision is 20/100, which is good enough for just about everything but not good enough to drive. I'd *KILL* to be able to use one of these things!

    It seems as though the biggest problem with me driving would be reading road signs and such (I can't do it until we're basically at them, and then it's too late.) But while flying low I can see and recognize buildings and other landmarks (providing I know them). So if I limited it to day use, why couldn't I use one?
  • The site said those were in "future development". Nice. :-)
  • I imagine this copter would auto-rotate if it ran out of fuel, just like any other. You would fall, but not like a brick, more like a leaf.
  • by rbf ( 2305 )
    Great! Now all those idiots that can't drive a car will be wanting one of those. Plus all the idiots who can't drive AND talk on the phone! Imagine that! "could you hold on a sec, I need to get out of this spin" or "bla bla bla CRASH!" I fear what will happen with those who tailgate in a car! That will be very scary! So now you'll have the impact of the inital crash, plus the spinning blades, AND the fall to the ground...

    Sounds great! Were do I signup? ;-)
  • since the state of virginia suspended my driving privledge for hitting small children in a fit of rage i desperately need one so i can kill more ki....i mean....get to work.

    -=+ neonmatrix +=-

    "who are you? who slips into my robot body and whispers to my ghost?"
  • Read the specs, 60mph is only cruising speed. It gives VNE (velocity never exceed) at 120mph! More than that and things start to fall off.

    Anyone done a Flight Sim 2000 model of it yet?

  • Doh! You are correct [skydepot.com]! Make that 0:1 assuming ideal conditions. And yes, that would still suck at 1:1 (maybe you can get that flapping your arms after unbuckling yourself from the contraption?)


    http://www.mp3.com/fudge/ [mp3.com]

  • I have been corrected by an AC. News at 11.
    http://www.mp3.com/fudge/ [mp3.com]
  • So, let me get this straight... if I run out of fuel or have engine problems I just go straight down? No possible way to bring 'er in in a deserted field (which as we all know litter the sides of bustling highways) or on a dusty side road? No furicking way would you catch anyone in one of these. Now, a commercial helicopter that has over engineered failover and redundant systems is one thing... but this toy is another. I will wait until somewhat stable VTOLs come out that have some semblance of safety features. Otherwise I will take my chances with a semi plowing me into the great beyond vs. getting a bad batch of gas at the local convenience store.
    http://www.mp3.com/fudge/ [mp3.com]
  • Drunk drivers of the sky, teens throwing empty cans through the rotors of other fliers, halfblind grandpas landing into others' rotors then suing the manufacturers for the loss of their legs... Now there's a brave new future I can do without.

  • Traffic queues in the air...

    If crashing drunk drivers aren't enough for you, try in at 60 mph at 500 feet above ground :)

    First Flight!

  • Easiest place, except for scyscrapers :I

    I'll include this stuff too into an exoskeleton short story I'm working on - anyone in USA willing to host it for /. readers? I'd hate to pay the international traffic cost...
  • Well, perhaps that's better, though, since you are guaranteed death, and a quick one. Better than being paralyzed for life, which is what often happens in a car accident

    Please enlighten me, is this called positive or negative thinking?^)
  • this is at AP's website:
    http://wire.ap.org/APnews/center_story.html?FRONTI D=TECHNOLOGY&STORYID=APIS73DP9A00

    I'm on the team that manages the AP's news site (wire.ap.org). The truth is, you can't go directly to the URL that was posted here. The Wire is designed such that you need to enter a member's co-branded site, but as a non-profit orginization, we don't promote ourselves. Sorry!

    (I don't make the rules; I just carry them out technically. The opinions here are mine alone and not my employers'.)

    - Richie

  • That's strange. I went to high school with that guy.
  • There are many proven techniques fot parachutes. On the ultralight I flew (many many moons ago) the prop was wood (birch, I believe) and the parachute had a metal chain that would foul the prop and snap it off. Obviously, you couldn't take off again with replacing the propeller, which was a wee bit harder to come by than 5 gallons of 93 octane

    There are parachutes that deploy 'explosively' much like an airbag, and where the guy lines lead to a single pivot chain (like the one you use on a spinner lure when fishing). It's not much like sjy diving - there's no control over where you land.

    I've seen parachutes that were post-mounted (above/away from the airframe) and and center mounted (above the rotor shaft) but I don't know how common each o these designs were, nor have I observed a deployment
    I'm way out of date on this. I went to a skydiving airport a couple of years ago, and I was stunned to see everyone using what we would have called 'flying wings' 15-20 years ago. (back then, we all used round silk chutes, and debated if PIADs (Parachute Inflation Assist Devices - semi-stiff plastic flaps that scooped air into your depolying canopy to help it inflate) really worked. The US military wasn't much better off (though they were using PIADs in 1980)

    Dang... 20 years ago... I'm only 37 ... perils of doing too much, too early, I guess

    My new .sig: Join AMSAT [amsat.org]
  • The SoloTrek XFV [solotrek.com] is similar, and looks a bit more interesting to me.

    It's still in development, so it might only be vapour.

  • And I thought it sucked driving to work in the winter NOW. Brr...
  • some quick thoughts:

    - eventually they would force people to get licenses

    - where would all the parking lots (helipads) be?

    i recently looked into how much and how long getting a pilot's license (1year and $10K) takes, and given that helicopters are the automobiles of the future, wouldn't there be a great opportunity to make money teaching people how to be copter pilots?

    i suppose the helicopters will all run on gnu/linux software right 8)
  • SoloTrek [solotrek.com]
    is the best one of these personal VTOLs I've seen. It fits in nicely with the ones you mentioned.
    And they all kick this little helicopter's butt.
  • Whoops, I was just thinking and writing at the same time.

    You're right, and 12mpg is much worse.

  • Urban airspace: yes and no. In many circumstances you would fly below ATCs airspace.

    Licensing: no. This would qualiy as an ultralight under FAR Part 103 (FAR = Federal Aviation Regulations, for you non-pilot types). So you can fly it (legally, in class G airspace) with zero experience. Now, that may not be very wise...
  • For those who didn't go to the company's site, it has four 10Hp engines. (10 horsepower is ~7.5 kW for you metric types) Each engine has it's own clutch and they claim it can hover on three, and descend safely on two.

    And I agree you'd want a helmet - with a good strong visor.
  • 30000 doesn't sound like a lot of money - this thing would be deadly cool provided you live in an open enough area (not a packed Euro city).
  • There was a story about a guy who lived in the boonies of Minnesota, who had his own Rotorway exec he took off from his backyard to his workplace.

    His neighbors were screaming "but what about the kids?" and were trying very hard to prohibit him from using it in his yard, fearing the kids would be diced up. (uh, no).

    I've seen the plans for the Rotorway Exec, and it looks like a REAL helicopter. No top monuted yoke(*my biggest complaint about autogyros and 1-man helicopters).

    I've also seen those $10 plans you see for ultralight helicopters, and there seems to be MANY unansewred questions to it, and no indicators, or real controls. One helicopter plan I saw(which looks like it was drafted by an 8-year old) was controlled by bending your body forwards/backwards instead of a standard yoke. Gack. I could build something better out of $400 worth of Technic lego.
  • If neither chewing nor swallowing are neccessary, I don't think it qualifies as food...
  • It's mounted *above* the blades on the center mast. The pilot stays with the aircraft and the chute is used to land the *whole* thing (pilot and aircraft). The BRS site has video of deploying such a system on a light plane (some model of Cessna I think...)
  • >Revlotion makes some really cool design in their >2 place helicopter kits

    The thing is, they never made a two place other than the prototype, which was rumored to only have about 3 hours of flight time. They went out of business before any were produced. They did make a very popular single place (the Mini-500). It sold initially for around $25,000, but has been plagued with problems.
  • >That is why it is sold as a kit. Who are you >going to sue, when you are the person that made >it?

    The designer, or the people who produce the kit. The homebuilt aircraft market is anything but immune to the lawsuits. Rotary Air Force, Vans Aircraft, and Team all have been sued recently. While they all won their respective lawsuits, Team still went under from the huge legal fees.

  • Not in the US, anyways. Some other countries have more relaxed standards for their ultralights.
  • > ... I think the military will be heavily involved if these suckers get built! hehehe

    It'll be a surprise, like the machine-gun equipped dune buggies used in Desert Storm.
  • Lamboghini used to make a single man chopper. Looked kinda neat too. Almost as expensive as their loud, heavy, unreliable cars also. Although I guess not as heavy and hopefully I bit more reliable. :)
  • If crashing drunk drivers aren't enough for you, try in at 60 mph at 500 feet above ground :)

    Three words... LOOK OUT BELOW!!

  • by Korova ( 69186 )
    One aspect on which the site was silent was how much noise these things make. Ultralights are noisy beasts, and with four high revving unsilenced 2 stroke engines this one will be evil.
    I would guess that one ot the main risks in flying one of these things is being shot out of the sky just to stop the noise
  • LOL!

    You, good person, have just made my day!

    Thanks for the laugh!
  • This thing looks like the one of the advertisments in the back of Popular Science. You send $24.95 for a set of plans.

  • That is why it is sold as a kit. Who are you going to sue, when you are the person that made it?
  • as for motorcycles- Loud Pipes Save Lives. its not just for effect- really loud pipes are part machismo and mostly highway safety.


    Loud pipes do not contribute at all to motorcycle safety.

    1. By the time the other driver hears you, he's already pulled out in your path.
    2. You can't hear anything above the noise of your own bike.

    ...can't bank his pipes is probably a personal issue, but it's not just to piss people off.

    You're right, it's not just to piss people off. It also says "Hey, look at me! I can ride a bike!" and "Hey, I can pretend to be a badass too!"

    Admit it, it's an ego thing, and nothing more.

    BTW, "real bikes" don't have to be trailered everywhere they go.


  • That's what the parachute is for. :)

    All you really need is somewhere to land -- you could park this by rolling it into a space just like a car. In fact, from the look of it, you probably could store two or three of them in a parking space, if you could fold up the rotors like Navy helicopters. Roofs would be ideal for heavily populated areas -- new parking structures on top of buildings? Eeesh.

  • sure it's not 5 gal/hr PER engine, which would make is 3mpg? I find it hard to believe that it would be as efficient as 12mpg.
  • Real Men use real bikes. The kind where you provide the energy. Any dumbass can ride a motorcycle.
  • Moller [moller.com] has been working on their skycar car for years now and are about to get FAA certification which means they could start production within a year. Here is what there president says:

    The flights of our two-passenger experimental M200X in the early 1990's gave my staff and I great personal satisfaction. As the pilot, I really felt like a hummingbird moving up, down, forward and backward at will. Flying on a magic carpet was another apt description. This first year in the new millennium will see us achieving another significant goal with the flight of the 4-passenger M400 Skycar. The M400 is a production configuration, meaning that it is essentially the same as what you will use in the very near future. Right now our team is busily testing the components which will, working together, give our society an alternative to the automobile for personal transportation. No more hours spent sitting on the congested highways adding pollutants to our environment. Facing unsafe drivers, poor driving conditions and overcrowded roads will become a thing of the past.

  • ...of refueling this beast at almost $2.00 per gallon for unleaded gas. :)

    BTW: Bets are these things will be more hated by Al Gore than SUV's. What is its emissions level? Woohoo.
    63,000 bugs in the code, 63,000 bugs,
    ya get 1 whacked with a service pack,
  • Lower tech got us to the moon. I have yet to see high tech do that.
  • For 30000 you can buy a much better helicopter. It LOOKS like a helicopter too. I don't remember its name though but I've seen it in a lot of movies and they also use it for some kind of medical rescue missions. It's a single person helicopter, similar in shape to say Bell helos. I remember checking on the web and it cost a bit less than $30000, but I guess its maintenance costs are higher. They can also be armed with small missiles or machine guns.
  • Here is a link [virtualave.net] to a description of the helicopter I described.
  • I think you're right, but only initially. People would start building the lots onto roofs because that'd be the easy thing to do.

    That takes up a lot of space though - it's not very space efficient. Eventually I think you'd see people developing "parking towers" with clover-shaped levels (for 4 landing pads) around their outsides every ~15 feet. Stick an elevator in the center of the tower so that people can get down once they land and you'd be set.

    Remember, once you can fly, you're not limited to the terrible 2-D waste of space we see in our world today. Think 3-D!
  • A long time ago, I wanted to build a rear-engine automobile with a fold-up helo option, but I have no avionics training (infact I dropped out of physics :-) so if anyone could build such a thing, it certainly wouldn't be me.

    What ultimately shot the idea down though (pun intended) was the thought of some moron trying to hit the ground rolling at 150 kph, snapping off the rotor, and killing himself. Or jumping out of the car and chopping his head off.

    (Note to moderator: this is not a flamebait about controlling the population of rich idiots.)
  • Well yes, let's hope that the users of a dangerous technology are intelligent enough to handle it.

    Usually they have to be trained and licensed (such as airline pilots) but other times, access to the technology is governed by how rich a person is, or whether they're in the military in a foreign country (giving rocket launchers to teenage kids), or whether the person is an idiot who was hired by an incompetent manager.

    Anyway, the average IQ might be high to start with, and might even remain high, but it will nonetheless go relatively lower over time. So it's still a concern.

  • <Begin Satire>
    here let me give you a hint to get useful information such as an editorial inaccuracy on the post moderated up.

    Say something like "wow does anyone read the articles anymore"

    Then rant a little like Obviously no one proofreads at slashdot because the maximum speed is ABOVE 60mph go read the damn site.

    Then make some smartass comment about the poster.

    <End Satire>

  • The cool thing about vertical takeoff and landing is that it doesnt really require air traffic control for landing, takeoffs, etc.

    You can land most of these things in your back yard - you dont need 10,000 feet to slow down:)

    There'd definitely be some problems when there're a thousand people flying around at 350mph, but you can't exactly slam on your brakes in the air, so as long as there's some sort of set directional control, it wouldnt be that difficult to manage;)

    signature smigmature
  • Just put a fog generator around the Hummingbird and you have Lakitu's cloud from the Mario games.

    The personal chopper from the article has also appeared in a video game: try XEvil [xevil.com] ($20 shareware for Win9x and X11).

  • This thing has about a 45 mile max range. That's going at max speed. So you think you can hop from gas station to gas station?

    You just solved the problem of air traffic control. When these things become popular, people will tend to create their own "roads" in the air between established filling stations.

    It can make an emergency landing with just 2 engines, but what happens when all 4 engines run out of gas?

    Parachutes were the first air bags.

  • If this parachute were integrated into the system, they could almost call it an air bag :-)
  • would we, as a normally "free thinking, free acting" people relent to such auto-control?

    Of course we would. Leaving the driving to the vehicle (in something like the Fifth Element knockoff [macroindustries.com]) would free up more time for getting news for nerds on our cellphones. Now this is stuff that matters.


    You know you want it. So go download
  • Server doesn't allow remote image loading. The comment should have linked to the page the image was on.

    However, if you go to Fort Wayne Newspapers [fortwayne.com], an AP affiliate, and then paste in the image's URL, the image shows up fine and dandy.

    You know you really want to download
  • It seems like a dangerous idea to have people using these things without a license requirement. How much of a negative effect to the helicopter's operation would be produced by putting a metal cage around the blade part (like some fans have)?
  • by Anonymous Coward

    non-pitchable blades (no autorotations)
    ultralight catagory (no flight over populated ares)
    engines designed for RCs (engine failure RSN)

    ...yeah, that's the kind of thing I'd strap my ass in to fly to work.

    (just because you think your smart doesn't mean you're not really stupid in the grand scheme of things)
  • Is there ANY room at all for payloads? Like even a small box or sack of something? Without that its usefullness would be pretty severely limiting.

    It also looks like there's no seat. You see this guy sitting in the middle of the air. Looks uncomfortable... :)
  • As long as you didn't run into power lines and passenger jets, this would be the answer to many traffic conjestion problems and chronic gas shortages. At $30,000 it's cheaper a car but how reliable is it? The landing gear, gearbox, and gimballing mechanism look really flimsy. How efficient will it be when a parachute and life jacket are added?
  • If you live in a major city expect to be constatly talking to ATC as you fly this thing. Controlled Airspace etc. There are enough yahoo's in the air as it is.

    Expect to get 50 hours with an instructor before you can start using this thing. Oh and that's only flying Day VFR.

    (35 hours ASEL)

    The Cure of the ills of Democracy is more Democracy.

  • I'd like to see how a parachute on a helicopter can actually work. Imagine the ultimate failure. No problem, just use the parachute. One problem. There are what is left of the rotating blades above. Never mind you were chicken to fly very high. You bail with the parachute and the helicopter chases you to the ground, yet the parachute does indeed open. Whew! Uh oh... Shwoosh, rip, tear, *thud* and its no longer the aircraft that is in pieces.

    Now where is this neat video of a parachute that works with a helicopter?
  • The lucky guy who you see flying it was actually an American intern at the company; his whole job for a summer was to learn how to fly the thing and to demo it. Damned if that wouldn't be a great job experience! He has a bunch more pictures of the device [byu.edu] on his website. Fun!

    David E. Weekly [weekly.org]

  • I honestly think Inspector Gadget was the motivation for this invention... :)


  • My early graduate work was with autonomous helicopters, and I saw quite a few one man helicopters. Most of them were built from kits and customized for a variety of missions/flight profiles. We worked with models (much smaller and cheaper), but some people liked these because they could have a pilot and transistion between computer control and pilot.

    The problems though were cost and reliablity. These things aren't cheap (the 60" models were around $3000), they need a LOT of maintanence, and invariably crash easily. This model looks much simplier, but I'm not sure you can do things like autorotate with it. If you can't, it's a flying death trap. Ballistic shouts aren't going to work well either if the blades are still rotating. How do you prevent a fatal tangle.

    Try ultralites, they are much safer.
  • None of those would work with a helicopter of this size, and would be hard to delpoy in general on any helicopter. The amount of energy stored in a helo blade is much higher than a plane's prop and wood isn't even usable in small models without a metal leading edge. Delayed deployment doesn't work in helos, you don't have a viable airframe to glide on if the rotors aren't being driven. This is kind of the point of autorotation. Dip down with the blades picking up speed, pull up and change the blade pitch to really bit into the air just before hitting the ground.

    You can mount something above the blades, but this requires some pretty fancy rotor shafts if it doesn't have to rotate. Even then I'm not sure how well it would work. Would you have to wait until the rotor came down to a small velocity? Would there be enough time to do this and still deploy the chute?

    Helicopters are a different beast from anything else that flies. I remember an AHS meeting where three papers in a row basically were about how we couldn't figure out a mathematical model to explain how they flew beyond hover.
  • They plan a parachute, but I don't see how it will work in more than a handful of cases. You've got a lot of energy stored in those blades (yes, helicopters store LOTS of energy in the blade flexing), and the parachute works under the assumption of dead weight pulling against the deployment. In an airplane the prop doesn't effect it much, but in a helicopter the blades are going to want to beat the air to disipate that energy. The risk of intanglement is huge. How do you mount the parachute so the ballistic deployment doesn't cause more problems?

    I'll say it again, ultralite's are safer. In general you can glide down, and if you lose your lift surface then a parachute is useful. Of course just telecommuting solves almost all the problems.
  • If the blades are whirring above you, you don't need to worry about the chute being chopped up as you are still flying - it's when they stop whirring that you want the chute. So, no troubles...

  • http://www.prismz.com/g1/index.html

    It's the anscestor to these, they are a little klunky, run on large japanese motorcycle engines, and are available as plans (evidentally it costs about $8000 plus engine to get all the machining done for the rotors and the strange bearings that control blade pitch...)

    One of these days when i have both money and garage space at once...
  • Maybe you didn't read the FAQ:

    Q : Can it auto-rotate?
    A : No.
    there is no provision on this model for simplicity sake. A ballistic chute will be provided for future models

    What you are talking about is (I think)
    1)the way the engine gets rid of the torque created by the spinning motor (usually solved with a tail rotor)
    2)is used for steering purposes

    As for the electric motor you mentioned, I didn't see that anywhere. They do have gas engines on it, though, that burn 5 gal/hr, which at 60mph is only 20 mpg. I'll take my car thank you.

    I'm sorry, as an aeronautical engineering student, I'll have to agree with the first AC. This thing looks totally unsafe. I wonder how hard it would be to bank it into the ground or do something totally stupid like that.

    If you want something totally cool, try the SoloTrek (tm). [solotrek.com]
    Discussed in this slashdot story [slashdot.org], it has the same basic concept, but it has been developed with safety and ergonomics in mind. I can't wait to get one of those. I'll pass on this one, though.

  • I don't know about you, but this quote that I pulled off the bottom of their Specifications page REALLY scares me.

    " *How do I purchase?*

    Since, the GEN H-4 still has something left to be studied, but we are looking for some customers who want to purchase and are willing to test with us. So, we need your cooperation to put our product on the market. Please e-mail us about further information. "

    I don't know about other people, but I don't want to be a "tester" for a helicoptor. I can just see it now. As the FAA are picking through the wreckage, the Gen H-4 people arrive and start picking through the wreckage and taking TONS of pictures with their cameras...

    says Fugi Tomatsu to his boss, designer Gen Yanagisawa.

    "ahh, here is what went wrong we should have not used those hardend plastic bolts to save weight...it looks like this one broke....better fix that in the next model."

    *shrug* I guess I'm funny in that I care about my life. The phrase "something left to be studied" just really gives me that creepy feeling... the same one I get everytime I see a Macintosh.


  • e7's Law: As a technology becomes easier to use, the average IQ of the user community falls accordingly.

    Except if the technology is a dangerous one...

  • While I agree that the lack of autorotation is a problem with this vehicle, it *does* have a ballistic parachute system. This is a quick deployment parachute that is found on some other ultralight aircraft and hang gliders. Do a quick search on google for "ballistic parachute" and you can find some neat video of the device in action.
  • These things fall under the category of Ultra-Light Aircraft and are regulated by the FAA.

    Only in the U.S.

    If memory serves, they must weigh in at less than 750lbs, gas supply is limited to only 4galons, can fly onl...

    In short, they must carry one person only, weigh less than 254 lbs empty, carry no more than 5 gallons of fuel, cannot be capable of flight in excess of 55 knots, and has to stall at more tnan 24 knots. In addition to some various other things.

    Autogyros can't take off and land vertically, they require forward speed to takeoff and land.

    Some gyros, such as the Air and Space 18a, can takeoff vertically. Landing rollouts are very short.

    Autogyros have the ability to autorotate the blade if you run out of gas or lose power to the blade.

    The main rotor in an autogyro is unpowered. They autorotate all the time in flight.

    The blade pitch is critical in getting the blades to autorotate, that is why parachutes are required.

    Blade pitch in the vast majority of autogyros is fixed. Parachutes are NOT required.

    The coolest ultralight I've seen is actually a rectangular ram-air parachute attached to a motorized frame

    Agreed... Great fun, and relatively cheap to fly.
  • Oh yeah, this is what we need, to add the gift of gravity to all those out of control drivers out there. What is terminal velocity again? too fast for the roof of my apartment!
  • can I get the James Bond option pack (as seen You Only Live Twice)?? The flamethrower option is nice, but for maximum effect I want the air to air missles!

  • First, IANAHP (I am not a helicopter pilot) but many of my friends are.

    Autorotation is a technique where the angle of attack of the blades is reduced upon an engine failure so the air flowing through the descending rotor blades increases the rotational velocity of the blades. Since the angle of attack of the blades on this craft cannot be adjusted, it cannot autorotate. It even says this on the FAQ page. The FAQ also states that a ballistic chute will be provided on future models to address this shortcoming.

    Autorotation ability is a necessity among full size helicopters and helicopter pilots so that an engine failure does not automatically result in death of the crew.

  • Or http://partners .nytimes.com/aponline/i/AP-Japan-Compact-Copter.ht ml [nytimes.com]

    The replace-"www"-with-"partners" trick should let you bypass registration for any article.

  • by Flicka ( 97136 )
    Finaly i can ware that action man suit i got for christmas!
  • There's a reason why I took 8 months and $8000.00 to become a licensed pilot! It wasn't because it took me that long to learn how to control the aircraft. After only a few hours in the air I could do a decent job of that.

    What really takes time in learning how to fly is making sure you know the laws perfectly. Making sure that you know how a given meteorological phenomenon will affect flight. Making sure that you drill yourself with emergency procedures so much and so often that you wake up dreaming about them. Making sure that you're comfortable enough that you can handle yourself properly in all situations.

    Learning to fly involves more than just being able to control the aircraft. Certainly someone who knows how to make a few takeoffs and landings isn't necessarily someone who knows how to fly. I could just see the hordes of people who buy these helicopters under the assumption that if they've spent several hours in front of Microsoft Flight Simulator, that they know how to fly. To have people flying these things around with no license is idiotic.

  • this is at AP's website:
    http://wire.ap.org/APnews/center_story.html?FRON TID=TECHNOLOGY&STORYID=APIS73DP9A00
  • After a quick search, I found the other flavor I had forgotten: It's called SoloTrek [solotrek.com] and looks like it'd be fun to fly:)

    Personally, I want me one of the SkyCar's. Forget muscle cars, I can't think of a better chick magnet than these. One leisurely stroll across the rockies and they're yours forever;)

    What's neat about all of these VTOL's is that most of them run on either Diesel and/or Unleaded Gas, so you can refuel them anywhere. Although thinking about it again, that may not be so great:) Personal Aircraft would be a good motivation to move away from petroleum:)

    signature smigmature
  • Forget the drunks, think about NYC cab drivers.

    BTW, check out Moller International [moller.com]. They've been prototyping a similliar type of sky car. I'd be willing to drop a million for one of these.


  • Not a comment about debuggers.

    Just think, protien at 60mph. Fast food?

  • Isn't this like the "Jet pack" that was on last year? What ever happened with that? They had the laser eye scanner turned up too high?

  • Stay in your lane and it's a piece of cake.

    I still kindof agree with the parent poster. &nbsp Despite the uprise in "office parks" in the less congested, non-metro areas, the majority of commuter traffic is still coming into the metro areas for work (not counting the telecommuters). &nbsp Vehicles like these, en masse, conjure up visions of Star Wars:TFM and the scenes on Corucant, with multiple layers and lanes of traffic, all apparently auto-guided. &nbsp I would expect special zones would have to be created in congested areas where auto-guidance would be required. &nbsp But would we, as a normally "free thinking, free acting" people relent to such auto-control? &nbsp It doesn't exist with aircraft at present, although pilots are expected to follow the flight paths and "stay in their lanes", but there's nothing stopping them from suddenly deviating... &nbsp This is why I think (at least in the U.S.) we have generally been resistant to any of the latest magno-trains and other high tech vehicles. &nbsp We like the freedom and independence of our cars. &nbsp With these little personal vehicles, where it would be expected that an average Joe Schmo might be behind the wheel so to speak, the type of assumed "stay in your lane" common sense would be a stretch for alot of idiots currently on the road (ie., folks who really do think they're flying an aircraft and believe that the front of their cars contain a single wheel that MUST stay centered on the line between lanes.... &nbsp ;-)

    Oh well... there are so many issues that would need to be seriously hashed out before any of these things see the light of day in our transportation structure as it stands now. &nbsp The most viable starting point would be as a bus/train replacement - a way to limit the number vehicles "in flight" while allowing the time to hash out the air traffic control issues.

  • These things fall under the category of Ultra-Light Aircraft and are regulated by the FAA. If memory serves, they must weigh in at less than 750lbs, gas supply is limited to only 4galons, can fly only during daylight VFR (visual) conditions, I believe a parachute (for the aaircraft) is also required, and must not have a passenger (fly solo) to be unlicensed. Note howerer that most people that fly them are licensed pilots. Most companies provide instruction to newbies, at least enough to get you off the ground safely! Most of the designs people refer to as helicopters aren't helicopters at all, but are autogyros. Autogyros can't take off and land vertically, they require forward speed to takeoff and land. Autogyros have the ability to autorotate the blade if you run out of gas or lose power to the blade. The blade pitch is critical in getting the blades to autorotate, that is why parachutes are required. also licensed pilots can fly these things with passengers, more gas etc.

    The coolest ultralight I've seen is actually a rectangular ram-air parachute attached to a motorized frame. Forward speed fills the parachute and off you go. Steering is accomplished by pulling down on the risers (cords attached to the side of the parachute), it has a top speed of about 40 knots, it must be the safest ultra-light around, it is afterall a parachute.

    Every year the EAA Experimental aircraft Association has its annual fyl-in at Oshkosh, Wisconsin, the last week in July, for more info click here. [eaa.org]The EAA is the /. of the experimental and ultra-light aircraft community. The annual EAA fly-in makes the airport in Oshkosh the busiest airport in the world for one week. Ironically Oshkosh has trouble getting a commercial carrier to service Wittman airport with commercial flights.

  • What if you get caught out in the rain, or worse yet a thunderstorm?

    Not to mention that these things are so small its very likely that if you strayed into the wrong airspace a larger aircraft wouldn't see you until you wound up on their windshield! (ouch)

  • by hatless ( 8275 ) on Saturday March 25, 2000 @09:35AM (#1173502)
    The only thing any of these companies are selling are videotapes, brochures for investors, and simulation software. Exactly two of the three that claim to have a product have exactly one prototype apiece, each of which have flown a few hundred feet, and they won't make one for you at any price.

    If you don't want any of this prime swampland I'm selling in New Jersey, I hear the Brooklyn Bridge is for sale.
  • by jon_c ( 100593 ) on Saturday March 25, 2000 @02:51AM (#1173503) Homepage
    from what I understand the lawyers killed the personal aviation market due to lawsuits. a friend from work who is very serious about flying tells me that a law(s) have passed that make this much more difficult.

    you do have to wonder if something like this (no pun intended) takes off. will we really see the end of these law suits?

  • by gengee ( 124713 ) <gengis@hawaii.rr.com> on Saturday March 25, 2000 @02:57AM (#1173504)
    There are many different flavors of personal vertical takeoff and landing devices. A neat one that is more of a hovering-design called Hummingbird can be found here [vtol.co.il].

    A company called Moller makes this EXREMELY cool looking model: Sky Car [moller.com]

    There's another one I can't rememberr now - I submitted it to slashdot a week ago or so, but sadly, it was declined:)

    signature smigmature
  • by JDax ( 148242 ) on Saturday March 25, 2000 @03:59AM (#1173505)
    Dammit! &nbsp It's noisy enough with mufflerless cars and purposely modded motorcycles that hotrod up and down straight-a-ways.&nbsp Let alone the noise coming from a regular helicopter. &nbsp All I can imagine is yet another thing to add noise pollution to my environment (and I'm not an obsessive environmental freak, by the way).

    Any engineers out there have an idea as to what a "swarm" of these things would do, db-wise? &nbsp Just curious. &nbsp And interestingly, US$30,000 is pretty cheap considering it's right there in the price range of the average SUV.

  • by Garund ( 154408 ) on Saturday March 25, 2000 @08:41AM (#1173506)
    One thing's certain. The insurance comapnies would make a killing if people were allowed to do themselves and each other in, (and destroy architecture and topography), with flying death cars. Heck. The AC's should all run on uncertified liquid natural gas systems. Every day should be fireworks day, and the insurance companies could buy shoes and hamburgers for every man woman and child in the country!

    Ooh. Another thought. What would the towing charge be on a parachuted copter when you might land your sorry ass somewhere without road access?

    Clearly, this flying car invention is another which belongs on the very short, "It Would Much Cooler If I Was The Only Person To Own One," category.

    Oddly, there's only about three other inventions I'd like to see in this list. For your reference they include. . .


    --Come on. If you were the only guy with a bicycle, you could do the Letterman show and be a real live circus side show attraction. And who wouldn't want to run away with the circus? Or is that very last century? (What's today's equivalent? Can you even run away in this world and not end up a squeegie kid? Too bad. Squeegie kids don't get pet monkeys, or fall in love with the beautiful 18 year old daughter of the Amazing Flying Petrov family.)


    ---After all the fuss and bother, it turned out that most of the population was only good for ripping off and building pyramids. How very sad.---

  • by NRAdude ( 166969 ) on Saturday March 25, 2000 @03:30AM (#1173507) Homepage Journal
    1) With a helipad on your boat, use it to search for tuna
    2) Equip the thing with some paint-ball guns and wage war with news-copter 9
    3) Tie a bungie rope to it with some of that sticky rodent tape on the end and try to airlift as many of the zoo's furry animals into the ocean
    4) Airlift a pissed-off hive of killer bees onto an outdoor mall
    5) shut up, I'm not done yet
    5) Fly close to the ground near a parade of beutiful women in dresses
    6) Drop rats on McDonalds when they're promoting 39cent hamburgers
    7) Pull some chest hair offa yo' moma's legs
    8) Fly over a nunnery and advertize free condoms
    9) Fly over a water-based theme park with some onions, exlax, and plenty of beer
    10) Crash that peice of shit with wings into your corvette and collect on insurance

  • by BlueGecko ( 109058 ) <(moc.liamg) (ta) (kcallop.nimajneb)> on Saturday March 25, 2000 @04:58AM (#1173508) Homepage
    All I can say is that the traffic jams would be... interesting.

    Given that if you had to wait too long you'd fall like a brick, I'm not sure "interesting" is the word I'd use.

    Traffic Guy: You'd better not head over to the West Side unless you've got a lot of fuel, because...well, shit, there goes one now.

  • by XNormal ( 8617 ) on Saturday March 25, 2000 @04:07AM (#1173509) Homepage
    The following designs use ducted fans:For more information why ducted fans are a good idea for reasons other than safety see this article [pair.com].

  • by HerrGlock ( 141750 ) on Saturday March 25, 2000 @03:26AM (#1173510) Homepage
    Someone already mentioned the lack of autorotational capability. Dual engines would almost be mandatory. Retreating blade stall would be a non-issue with 6' blades and a top speed of 60mph. Counter rotating blades have proven themselves already in a few designs out there. Nice "toy" but I wouldn't want to depend on it for my living. I'd much prefer a cage of some kind for minor things like birds and bugs (ever stuck your head out a car window @60 mph and gotten a bug in the eye or mouth?) The good thing it that it's MUCH cheaper than a Bell 206. I wonder how long it will take before it's regulated to death "for our own safety." Big ol' knobby tires might make roll-on landings more interesting as hovering takes a LOT of gas. "Honey?? All the other guys have one..."

"For a male and female to live continuously together is... biologically speaking, an extremely unnatural condition." -- Robert Briffault