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Toys

Buy Your Very Own Exoskeleton Flying Vehicle 197

dks writes "Yahoo! News is running a story about a personal flying machine originally developed for the military that straps on an individual's back and allows her to fly around for over two hours at a time. The prototype is now up for auction on eBay. The only catch--you have to agree not to operate the vehicle if you purchase it. Uh...yeah...I'm just buying it for display. Yeah, that's it."
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Buy Your Very Own Exoskeleton Flying Vehicle

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  • Why? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by mcgintech ( 583056 )
    I don't see why they have to agree not to fly it. Why not just sign an agreement that if you kill yourself or others, the seller is not responsible? Makes more sense to me. What idiot would by a personal flying machine for > a million and agree not to use it?
    • Re:Why? (Score:4, Informative)

      by Kierthos ( 225954 ) on Saturday January 11, 2003 @09:23AM (#5062015) Homepage
      Basically, it's a (pardon the pun) safety net for the company that made it. If you buy it (and therefore agree not to fly it), and then go ahead and fly it anyway and injure yourself, you'll have that much more of a problem successfully suing them over it.

      While you cannot completely sign away your "right" to sue someone, a contract like this makes it much more difficult to collect a judgement.

      Kierthos
      • It doesn't work... (Score:2, Interesting)

        by blahlemon ( 638963 )
        Well, rather the version that is being sold doesn't work. CBC radio did an interview with the CEO of the company and ask how they plan to keep the person from flying the devise. He said that the company was removing critical systems to keep the buyer honest.

        The focus of the sale is in the hopes of it being used for an educational purpose, ie: placed in a technology center or a science museum...or a very rich school board. He didn't get into why they were selling it, at least I didn't hear him get into it.

        • Hmm so having removed critical components (ie components without which it will not perform it;s function), it is no longer a flying machine then.

          I will watch this auction with great interest. If anyone does buy it, there's loads of junk round the back of my garage I can flog as "Non-working flying machines". They will also have critical compnents missing (ie harness, motors, fuel source, ducting, controls, balancing electronics, instruments....)

    • Re:Why? (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Maybe it doesn't work?
    • Re:Why? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Jhon ( 241832 )
      My guess would be that they dont want the bad publicity should some fool decide to be a "test pilot" for this "prototype".

      Besides, why would someone WANT to fly this? It would be cool if it was like the 3rd or 4th generation COMMERCIAL version. At least the likelyhood of faulty engineering would be less of a possibility (i.e. they worked out the kinks). But a prototype? I'm all for being a beta tester for software or even hardware. Just not for something that could reach terminal velocity.

      -jhon
    • Re:Why? (Score:5, Funny)

      by Guppy06 ( 410832 ) on Saturday January 11, 2003 @01:05PM (#5062743)
      "I don't see why they have to agree not to fly it."

      The preceding restriction is brought to us by the letter F, the letter A, and another letter A.
      • Re:Why? (Score:2, Interesting)

        by mcgintech ( 583056 )
        The agreement isn't with the FAA. The agreement is with the seller. I'm pretty sure that this company is not a rep for the FAA. This is simply a CYA move and nothing more. It the buyer flies it and the FAA comes down on them, it still has nothing to do with the seller or any agreement between the buyer and seller.
        • Re:Why? (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Guppy06 ( 410832 )
          "The agreement is with the seller."

          If the seller sells the thing as a "flying machine," it's covered by the FAA rules and regulations on flying machines. Getting the buyer to promise not to fly it gets the seller out of having to demonstrate its airworthyness/get it certified/etc.
          • Re:Why? (Score:2, Informative)

            by sixdotoh ( 584811 )
            what about these ads in the back of popular science for "Homebuilt Helicopters" which claim "No license needed"? after investigating one of their websites (www.prismz.com/helio [prismz.com] i found an faq which cites: Does the A/W 95 require a license and/or registration to operate? It does IF its finished empty weight exceeds 254 lbs (the ultralight limit). In that case the aircraft itself is classified under Federal Aviation Regualtion (FAR) 20-27D, which pertains to the registration of Experimental Aircraft. The pilot would obtain a Recreational Pilot Certificate--the basic license for the flight of an Experimental Aircraft. Such a license is relatively easy to acquire and the student can begin flying the A/W 95 with a Student Pilot License. For further details, obtain a copy of FAR Part 61. If the finished weight of the A/W 95 is trimmed to 254 lbs or less, it will qualify as an ultralight aircraft, which requires no license or registration to fly. The aircraft must then be flown during daylight hours in areas away from large concentrations of population or large airports. Further details are provided in FAR 103. You can obtain copies of the various FARs from the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration), which is typically listed in The Blue Pages of the phonebook under U.S. Government, Transportation Department; or simply go to http://www.faa.gov/ (http://www.vortechonline.com/aw95/faqs.htm [vortechonline.com]) so i guess the question is the weight of the machine. just to let people know the rules . . .
          • Not true. I've purchased multiple "flying machines" in the US without any approval from the FAA, and have operated them in the US without regard to FAA rules and regulations, and they don't care in the slightest. Not every "flying machine" is under their jurisdiction.

            Even if a working Solotrek would be covered by FAA regs, if they sell a scrapped non-functional prototype (which it is), they don't have to make the buyer promise not to fly it in order to make the FAA happy. It would be up to the buyer to meet any FAA requirements.

            This is just like the situation if I sell you a scrapped non-functional prototype of an automobile. I don't have to meet any DOT regs for it, since it isn't a car. If you turn it into a car, you have to deal with the regs.

    • This is a one of a kind prototype of what the manufacturers hope will become a popular mass production phenomenon. If you read the blurb on E-Bay you realise that the biding is realy for "The smithsonian" and anyone else with the cash to bid against them.

      I.e. Major museums and insanely welthy individuals.

      Treck knows this will eventualy end up in amuseum. They want it there as permanent advertising.

      The only thing that could prevent that is some ID10T crashing into propane tank and smashing the flier to smitherines.

  • by kypper ( 446750 ) on Saturday January 11, 2003 @09:22AM (#5062012)
    Would you buy something for a million dollars off of ebay when the seller's rating is zero?
  • xmas (Score:4, Funny)

    by wastedimage ( 266293 ) on Saturday January 11, 2003 @09:23AM (#5062014)
    Man and they just missed christmas..
  • I live in Canada... if I was to buy such a device and sign the agreement, would the agreement hold true if I operated it in Canada?

    I don't think it would, plus how would they even know?? are my neighbours are going to call these guys and tell on me??? I doubt it.

    • Yes. You could be sued in Canada for violating your contract, which I assume is illegal up there too. Or you could be sued in the USA and our people would talk to your people and make them ship you down here.
    • IANAL, but the agreement would hold just as true as it would in the United States - because it is an arse covering agreement between 2 private parties, not a legal restriction to prevent you from flying it. They would need an injunction for that - which in that case would probably only be effective in the United States.

      Because it is just an arse covering agreement it would probably be seen as binding(ish) by any court in any country that you ended up suing them in.

      Of course you could probably only sue them in the United States, so in that case; yes the agreement will hold just as true for you as a Canadian as it would for any United States citizen.
    • by SirSlud ( 67381 )
      How do you think international business could function if contracts couldn't be held across borders?!
  • I only want it to...kill zombies?
  • Grrr (Score:1, Informative)

    that straps on an individual's back and allows her to fly around
    'He' is the singular indefinite pronoun in English ("if a person drinks too much, he will likely experience a hangover"); 'He' also happens to be the masculine personal pronoun.
    'She' is the singular pronoun of personification in English ("if England fails to advance America's foreign-policy ambitions, she will suffer terrible consequences"); 'She' also happens to be the feminine personal pronoun.
    Confusing the two exhibits not a warm-and-fuzzy concern for the inclusion of women so much as a writer's or speaker's ignorance. Using the feminine personal pronoun as an indefinite article is as moronic as using the masculine personal pronoun for personification. Thus the captain greets us: "Welcome to my ship. Isn't he splendid?"
    RJ
    • Re:Grrr (Score:5, Funny)

      by jcoy42 ( 412359 ) on Saturday January 11, 2003 @09:37AM (#5062051) Homepage Journal
      Where have you been? Your response should have been more like:

      Huzzah! A slashdot story posted with *no* spelling errors, with comprehensible sentence structure!

      Go CowboyNeal!

    • Re:Grrr (Score:4, Informative)

      by elsegundo ( 316028 ) on Saturday January 11, 2003 @09:40AM (#5062057) Journal
      Well, on a Russian ship it would be "Welcome to my ship. Isn't he splendid?" as the Russian navy refers to ships in the masculine, as opposed to the feminine in the US navy.

      • Yeah, I think it has something to do with the fact that in Russia it is common for men to hug and kiss when they meet, opposed to women in the US.

        I think all people should do so, but not when they meet in open air flying XFV's.

      • Well, on a Russian ship it would be "Welcome to my ship. Isn't he splendid?" as the Russian navy refers to ships in the masculine, as opposed to the feminine in the US navy.

        Yes, but on a Russian ship it is also traditional to speak Russian. Yes, literal translation of the words spoken does assign the masculine pronoun--but it is still not classical English usage.

        To be fair, English is a rapidly growing and evolving language. Usage changes. 'Access' used to be a noun. Then, it became a verb as well. Now, it's an annoying piece of software. Still, I'm not going to advocate changes to the language because people are too lazy to learn the correct use of a pronoun and too caught up in a wave of warm-fuzzy political correctness to care.

        • >>Now, it's an annoying piece of software

          Actually, she's an annoying, buggy, piece of software. You could say that she doesn't get out of the house too much.

          I dumped her a long time ago for her hip, worldly, and open neighbor MySQL. She might not be perfect, but she's got style and class.

          Sure this can me modded down as off-topic. But I'm trying to have fun with the 'she's'. Lighten up. It's Saturday.

    • gender (Score:2, Informative)

      by pyrim ( 315794 )
      isnt ship feminine? as in 'she sank to the bottom'
      or
      'The Bonnie Belle is a sailing ship. She is very seaworthy.'
      and an interesting point after a quick google search:
      All this can be seen for the English-language folk-etymology DRECK that it
      really is by listening to sailors (i.e., people who have actual
      experience on ships rather than n-tuple-removed theoretical knowledge),
      who say that a ship is only animate-feminine when 'manned'; when the ship
      is decomissioned and without human activity (in mothballs), the ship is
      referred to as 'it' -- pointing to the actual ANIMACY conferred by he/she
      rather than just sexual genitalia, as we normally do in English.

      bleh grammar on...
    • Re:Grrr (Score:5, Funny)

      by MoThugz ( 560556 ) on Saturday January 11, 2003 @09:48AM (#5062080) Homepage
      You're missing the point... she will use the strap-on to fly him around so that everyone will know the feeling.

      OK... mod away, it is a bad joke, but I can't resist!
      • Except if this was developed by the military, she wouldn't be doing any flying, so, in fact, he will be using the strap-on

        On other's he's...

        Which makes you wonder...

        Don't ask, don't tell, just fly me away, baby. Sir.

        Oh, and, Off-topic. *snicker*
    • I thought an undefinded human being would be refered to as "she". :/
      As in "If a human drinks too much, she will likely experience a hangover".
      But then, I'm no expert in the English langugage. =)
    • you are a sexist [dhs.org] even if it is proper english.
    • Re:Grrr (Score:3, Funny)

      by mysticgoat ( 582871 )

      'He' is the singular indefinite pronoun in English...
      and later
      'She' is the singular pronoun of personification in English...

      Bah! You are attempting to apply rules of latin grammar to english. This didn't work in the 18th and 19th centuries when it was all the rage among the hoity-toity upper class. Why do you think it has any relevance to today's slashdot readers?

      I suppose you also object to splitting infinitives! You would not allow us "To boldly go where no one has gone before"?!

      Fie! Get thee hence and never return! Should slashdot ever need a grammar policeman, let them at least be policing the native structure of English and not foisting foreign rules upon us!

      There are some interesting usage notes from the The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language at Dictionary.com/he [reference.com] (and see also the links from there to "she" and "they" and the usage notes at those locations). These show that there is major disagreement in usage of "he" and "she" in ambiguous contexts, and the use of "he" as a representative sampling of a mixed group is now considered appropriate by only a minority of the publisher's Usage Panel.

    • Re:Grrr (Score:2, Funny)

      by TechnoGrl ( 322690 )
      >Confusing the two exhibits not a warm-and-fuzzy
      >concern for the inclusion of women so much as a
      >writer's or speaker's ignorance.

      TechnoGirl is willing to bet heavily that "Captainclever" is single.
  • by n76lima ( 455808 ) on Saturday January 11, 2003 @09:26AM (#5062026)
    The reason they are selling the proto-type is that it got tangled up in the tether during a test hop and crashed. Its damaged and they don't have the funds to fix it. The DOD/DARPA folks that were supporting the development declined to extend the deadline(s) for demonstration of the technology after the crash.

    The whole story as told from the SoloTrek perspective is on their web site. http://www.solotrek.com/
    • The whole story as told from the SoloTrek perspective is on their web site.

      It was already detailed in a previous article here [slashdot.org].

    • not to mention that even if it isnt damaged the only way they can gurantee that you dont fly it is by removing something vital for flight. anybody with any real money wont buy off ebay, they'll buy straight from the company
    • by ptomblin ( 1378 ) <ptomblin@xcski.com> on Saturday January 11, 2003 @09:38AM (#5062052) Homepage Journal
      All these people saying "well, if I buy it and fly it, how are they going to know" should know that SoloTrek never flew it except in a very low hover with a tether attached, so they don't know if the flight controls even work or if it's capable of flight outside of ground effect.

      They'd know you attempted to fly it by reading the obituaries.
      • by Goldenhawk ( 242867 ) on Saturday January 11, 2003 @12:50PM (#5062687) Homepage
        Before anyone asks, IAAAE (yes, I am an aerospace engineer).

        Ground effect does not apply to this type of aircraft.

        For an airplane, "ground effect" is the term applied to the tendency of a wing to exhibit increased aerodynamic efficiency (basically more lift and less drag) when it's within roughly a half-wingspan of the ground. It's caused, at least in layman's terms, by a cushion of air forming beneath the wing and the ground, and by the reduction of a drag-inducing wingtip vortex.

        This vehicle has no horizontal wing flying thru the air. So we can eliminate the obvious cushion of air.

        Now, a helicopter demonstrates ground effect for the same basic reason as an airplane, within half a rotor-disc-diameter or so of the ground, and also because for a hovering vehicle, the downwash tends to bounce back up again to provide a additional cushion. Here's a primer on helo ground effect. [copters.com] As you can see, the ground effect is largely produced by the ground limiting development of a tip vortex.

        Just for completeness, we can also address ground effect for a hovering jet, like the Harrier Jump Jet. In that case, the downwash bouncing up certainly provides a cushion, and the Harrier has strakes under the fuselage designed exclusively to capture that cushion of air and enhance it - kind of like a hovercraft. But for a hovering jet, you have an additional problem - the exhaust gases also tend to get reingested by the engine, lowering the engine efficiency. One of the most vexing problems for the Harrier, and also for the newer Joint Strike Fighter designs, is "hot gas reingestion". In fact, if you hover these aircraft pointing downwind, you can snuff out the engine due to lack of oxygen. (This issue is probably not a big problem for the high-bypass arrangement of the SoloTrek, where very little exhaust gas is produced.)

        Now to address this vehicle. The lift is provided by ducted fans. Therefore there is no tip vortex, because the duct prevents one from forming. In fact, the duct itself provides the same effect as ground effect, by eliminating the efficiency loss due to the vortex. The only relevant part of the "ground effect" here is therefore the bouncing cushion of air. But the fans on this vehicle are mounted so high above the ground (about 7 feet), and the total thrust is so low, that a fairly minimal ground effect cushion can be developed. In fact, in the pictures on Ebay, at least one of the photos [solotrek.com] shows the thing high enough up (the fans are at least 12 feet off the ground) that any ground effect that might exist would be almost totally eliminated.

        So it's extremely unlikely that this vehicle's performance would change significantly with climbing away from the ground.

    • If you read their story at the solotrek site, you'll find that there were TWO prototypes, one of which is fine.
    • 1 flying exo-skelton, used, big dent, flyable. $1M or best offer.
    • So, wait? Is this fact mentioned on the eBay auction itself?

      If not, buy this sucker on your American Express card and do a charge-back later, claiming it was damaged!

      Heh.
    • READ please (Score:4, Informative)

      by Marc2k ( 221814 ) on Saturday January 11, 2003 @01:53PM (#5062964) Homepage Journal
      You obviously never read the site.

      1.) Notice there is only ONE Solotrek for sale, and there were two orginal Solotrek XFV prototypes, one that crashed, causing them to miss the fatal milestone, and another unscathed on.

      2.) As said by Goldenhawk, the ground effect does not apply [slashdot.org]. Though you are right, it's never flown untethered.

      3.) Originally, Trek Aerospace planned on just closing its doors, but since the last article has updated their status and website greatly. The eBay auction states that the proceeds of the auction will go towards funding for the NEXT generation Solotrek vehicle, which has a much more conservative timeline.

      4.) According to Trek Aerospace's original statement about closing their doors, they were quick to mention that the first prototype only crashed because of a change in the management at DARPA, who would not allow them to extend the deadline of the milestone they would eventually miss. As such, they were forced to fly in inclement conditions, which were blamed for the crash.

      5.) The eBay auction, also states "As a condition of sale, the successful bidder will have to execute an agreement warranting that they will use the aircraft for static exhibition and educational purposes only."

      As a personal note, after not metioning that the vehicle was not in one piece, and showing pictures of a fully functional Solotrek, I'm sure it would have to be some form of misrepresentation to just hand the winner a broken Solotrek in a box of parts.
  • Cool! (Score:5, Informative)

    by giel ( 554962 ) on Saturday January 11, 2003 @09:27AM (#5062028) Journal

    The eBay article features a link to the company designing this stuff and they have a very cool concept for a two seater: duotrek [solotrek.com]. I WANT one of these. No more fucking parking problems, that is if the roof of my appartment is strong enough...

    • "Preliminary Specifications and Predicted Performance"

      It's not even a prototype yet. They just took a picture of a GI Joe Cobra Hover-Hiss or some damn thing and made up performance numbers.

      Though, heh, it would be neat. No roofs for me, though... mine's slanted.

      At least the auction has pictures of the actual thing actually flying. Well, unless it's all wire-fu. *sniff*
  • by jcoy42 ( 412359 ) on Saturday January 11, 2003 @09:31AM (#5062034) Homepage Journal
    you have to agree not to operate the vehicle if you purchase it.

    So how would you know it worked?

    I guess you could look at it like being married.

    • But at least with marriage you get to test drive it first... unless you're from down here in the Bible Belt where everybody buys sight unseen. *sigh* Wouldn't it be funny if the high bidder's from West Virginia? Ooo, it could be that guy who just won Powerball...
      • everybody buys sight unseen.

        You obviously don't know the "bible belt." Most people don't wait. In fact, most people don't even wait to be engaged.
  • by Noryungi ( 70322 )
    I just want one!

    Please, I did not have a nice present this year! Pretty please?
  • /. e-bay (Score:4, Insightful)

    by russianspy ( 523929 ) on Saturday January 11, 2003 @09:33AM (#5062043)
    This is either a new low, or a new high.
  • Loophole? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by The Creator ( 4611 ) on Saturday January 11, 2003 @09:39AM (#5062053) Homepage Journal

    How about someone buys this thing and then sells it to me and then I fly it?

    • Generally, these types of contracts have a section where the buyer promises not to resell the item without also requiring the new buyer to agree to the terms of the original contract.
  • I'm going to wait for M$ Exoskeleton Flying Machine .NET Service Pack 1 before getting mine.
  • by nounderscores ( 246517 ) on Saturday January 11, 2003 @09:46AM (#5062076)
  • RTFA (Score:4, Informative)

    by MontyP ( 26575 ) on Saturday January 11, 2003 @09:52AM (#5062091)
    The Auction does not say you can't fly it...
    "As a condition of sale, the successful bidder will have to execute an agreement warranting that they will use the aircraft for static exhibition and educational purposes only."
  • by dmomo ( 256005 ) on Saturday January 11, 2003 @09:52AM (#5062093)
    As a condition of sale, the successful bidder will have to execute an agreement warranting that they will use the aircraft for static exhibition and educational purposes only.

    Educational Purposes. What about LEARNING to fly it? It doesn't say you can't fly. You can exhibit it statically (i.e. not fly it), and use it for educational purposes. Just choose the latter!!
  • by prof_vestanpance ( 629108 ) on Saturday January 11, 2003 @10:03AM (#5062114)
    I have a fully functioning time machine for sale, bidding starts at £2 million. The only catch you have to promise not to use it. I also have a babe magnet but that's not for sale, but I may consider renting, usual conditions apply.
  • by nounderscores ( 246517 ) on Saturday January 11, 2003 @10:06AM (#5062117)
    The Glider and the Flight suit are missing!
  • by Amsterdam Vallon ( 639622 ) <amsterdamvallon2003@yahoo.com> on Saturday January 11, 2003 @10:10AM (#5062127) Homepage
    ... the first thing I'd do is slap some Type-R stickers on this baby.

    I mean, according to the specs page, it's only got 120 horsepower. I'd definitely have to keep adding and try to get that over 300.

    After the stickers, I'd probably buy some shiny alloy propeller covers for the engine. Nothing says speed like a bling blingin' shine.

    Then I'd alter the exhaust. To get better performance and an altogether faster ride, I'd replace the existing muffler with a stainless steel, hole-bored version. This would allow for a louder, more powerful sounding flight. Nearly everyone recognizes that fart can noises are sure signs of a ton of horses in the engine.

    Last but not least, I'd get some neon lighting for above the head of the passenger, a few blacklight stickers for the interior portion, bright blue Xenon lights for nighttime flying, and a few custom Eminem and Jay-Z mixes for some kick ass in-flight tunage!
    • If I bought it I'd hover around Trafalgar Square in London and as soon a pigeon landed I'd crap on it's head.

      Either that or I'd hover outside penthouse apartments playing drum and bass tracks* at night. If they call the police they will think they're nuts and hang up on them

      * Kloaking Device by DJ Krust would be good; "Hello police? I live 15 storeys up in the air and there is a man outside my window laughing telling me to use my cloaking device... hello, you still there?".

    • hehe. well done.
  • Anyone has pictures of one of these beauties...?
  • by mikkado ( 535011 ) on Saturday January 11, 2003 @10:13AM (#5062135)
    They claim to be the first one with this, I guess they have done very little research... Look, it's even here [slashdot.org] ...
  • I recall seeing the results of a recent survey in which people were asked how they would recognize when they were living in "the future." The overwhelming majority answered, "when we have flying cars." Is this getting us any closer? Does anyone else remember seeing this survey?
  • How long until... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by leomekenkamp ( 566309 ) on Saturday January 11, 2003 @10:26AM (#5062157)

    Considering the facts that

    • the name SoloTrek looks alot like StarTrek
    • the font of their logo [solotrek.com] is remarkably similar to the font used for TNG
    • they obviously are into science fiction
    How long until they get sued by a certain company [paramount.com] protecting their trademark [startrek.com]?

    I started writing this post trying to make a joke, but now I have thought some more about it; dunno...

  • The posting doesn't say that you cannot operate it, it says it must remain static. Perhaps operating it with a Tether would be considered static testing under FAA guidelines?
  • by core plexus ( 599119 ) on Saturday January 11, 2003 @10:30AM (#5062168) Homepage
    Not like anyone has $1mil to buy it with anyway. A more practicle, and inexpensive, personal exoskeleton flying vehicle is available right not. It's called an ultralight.

    Man Gets 70mpg in Homemade Car-Made from a Mainframe Computer [xnewswire.com]

  • It would be an even better genetic-elimination-device than those powered parachutes so many "flyers" use to whang themselves (and often passengers) into power lines and antenna towers now.
  • I heard an interview last night on NPR with the CEO and he mentioned that they were going to take a few "key" parts out before they sold it so that it would be impossible to fly.

    Shucks.
  • Bad design? (Score:2, Insightful)

    Even helicopers can land if their engines fail. It looks to me that if those engines fail, the passenger is outta luck.
  • Now they're selling failed aeronautical projects to the public! When can I get my Lockheed F-23?

  • The message on e-bay says that you can only fly it for static or educational purposes only. So you can't strap missles to it to blow stuff up. And all you cat burglars out there are out of luck if you want to use it to quietly make up to the 100th floor safe.
  • The question to really ask is what would you wanna do with one of those anyway? I think I'd use one to get to college in, depends how many miles to the gallon I could get tho ;)

    Someone said its selling at > 1mil, so why not go for the pragmatic solution of making one yourself (and whos gonna tell you not to fly one you've just made?!) - yes, thats right, 200 grands worth of battery powered hair dryers, a few office fans...also powered by battery....and you could make your own!

    Alternativly, collect bird feathers, glue them together with wax hence making yourself fake wings. I mean, come on, no one will have thought of that before!
  • Load'er up with pot, jump over the border, unload, repeat.
  • Sounds good, how many cup-holders does it have?
  • I heard an interview on Canada's CBC Radio 1 (Friday evening), and they were talking with the owner of the company. He said that in their test flights they had only gone 4 or 5 feet off the ground until further improvements could be made. He also said that the one they're selling on Ebay has had some vital components removed to help "keep the buyer honest".
  • by Animats ( 122034 ) on Saturday January 11, 2003 @01:20PM (#5062833) Homepage
    There's still Moller and his Skycar [moller.com]. From the site, it sounds like it's just about ready to go on sale. Now go to the 1998 archive of the site [archive.org] and read essentially the same thing.

    This is the 29th year of Moller vaporware. I have a 1974 brochure for Moller's "Discojet", which was supposed to be for sale Real Soon Now. This was a saucer-shaped flyer with eight Wankel engines. The brochure mentions prototypes going back to 1967. So he's been at this for 36 years now. Unsuccessfully.

    Not for lack of money, either; substantial funds have gone into this project.

    Small thrust-only flyers have been built. Several from the 1950s are at the Hiller Museum [hiller.org] in Redwood City, CA, and they actually flew. They have the famous Hiller Flying Platform. Such vehicles are inherently unstable and hard to fly, but not impossible to build. The stability problem ought to be solveable today - many modern military aircraft are stable only because a control system is constantly struggling to keep them stable. But an unstable VTOL is the worst case - aerodynamic control surfaces are ineffective at low speeds, adjusting engine thrust has too much lag, engine gimbals add weight, and thrust deflector plates waste power. The Harrier fighter, after 30 years, remains the only succesful pure-thrust VTOL.

  • Dear Seller

    I am very interesting with your item, and do you accep credit cards and please you calculate shipping cost to Indonesia?

    Thank You
  • When I hear about these things, I think about the following:

    A scene in Simpsons where the "Merry Bobbins" flies away only to be sucked into an airliner engine...

    In the Jetsons, people on jetpacks "banging heads while flying"... except in real life, there would be more "banging and splattering"...

    From "The Wizard of Oz"... an army of people with these things in flying monkey costumes heading out to terrorize trick-or-treaters on Halloween.

    ... Actually, that last idea doesn't sound half bad....

  • I don't understand the picture of the guy who is airborne with the streamers flying straight up above his head.

    Now, those rotors would have to be pushing air straight down at a ridiculous rate to lift the whole thing off the ground, so wouldn't those streamers get sucked into the rotors?

    It doesn't make sense to me.
  • This guy's been getting articles in Popular Science for decades about personal VTOL aircraft, that somehow are always five years away. I remember reading about this back when I was in grade school in the 1970's. Burt Rutan, he ain't.

    Is there a Collier trophy for vaporware?

    A million bucks is pretty steep for a failed prototype.

    -jcr
  • This popped up on the ERPS mailing list shortly after this was announced. Apparently they are selling junk for 1mill...
    E-Bay Buyer beware. Someone is going to pay good money for the novelty

    and then be very disappointed to learn that the thing can't be run or the
    flight controls even moved. No gyro, no flight control computer, wiring
    ripped out, etc. That aircraft suffered an un-publicized explosion/scatter
    of the fans last March. The input to the main gearbox broke, and the loose
    drive shaft destroyed the fuel tank and caused the fans to scatter. We were
    lucky no one got killed by the plastic fan blade fragments, as the CEO made
    us test it out in the parking lot driveway to the street. Except for it's
    novelty value, it's parts worth would be whatever an often-overheated Hirth
    F-30 is worth. The microcontrollers and RC model servos that I cobbled the
    fly-by-wire flight control system together from would have minimal value.
    I was canned from Trek a week before the latest accident, in part due to
    ongoing disagreement over the safety and legality of where and how we were
    testing the thing. They were really lucky to once again fail to kill
    anyone. (I used to set up the overhead tether so that it couldn't get
    sucked in, btw..)
    I agree completely that the thing was way too fragile and the soldier too
    exposed for it to ever make it as a combat zone vehicle. I believe that a
    sparrow or large bug could have caused the fans to scatter, much less a
    bullet hit. It could have been armored and the pilot more protected, but
    that would be an entirely different vehicle what with the extra weight
    required.
    A great deal of flight testing had yet to be done, and with the most
    recent crashed vehicle being the only machine available it would have taken
    years of cautious testing, by real test pilots. The concept really begged
    for an unmanned sub-scale radio controlled version to proof-of-concept its
    flying qualities. And more machines, of course. And most importantly, some
    significant Management changes. Aside from the missed milestones and
    crashed aircraft, DARPA was right to cease funding due to the way the
    program was being run.

    Ken Doyle,
    (former Trek Aerospace Development Engineer, now back home in Phoenix)


Statistics are no substitute for judgement. -- Henry Clay

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