Sunday, February 18, 2007

flying cars

Automobile is the most spread mean of transportation in the world. During 120 years of its history it had rapidly advanced and became one of the safest, quickest and the most reliable mean of transportation. Still in a 120 year period nothing much had been changed about its technology. All the concepts, which were introduced by Daimler, Benz, and Ford as well as by the inventor of diesel engine, Rudolf Diesel, had remained nearly the same. The mechanism was greatly improved as well as design and safety, so that modern cars mostly look like pieces of masterpiece, showing the grandeur of man's mind and idea, but the primary idea remained the same. Since automobile became a very spread transportation, it appeared another problem that faces modern engineers and scientists: what to do with such a great number of cars, when the number of roads and highways is limited?

Some engineers who basically work in the field of aviation, aerospace and other related technologies propose a very bold idea of flying cars with vertical takeoff. This theory had been introduced nearly fifty years ago, after the end of WW2. But the knowledge and opportunities that were offered by that day technology didn't allow wide range for experiments in this field.
But the development of space aviation and aeronautics technologies as well as applied aerodynamics do offer a lot of space for application in automobile industry.
Paul Moller, a California aeronautical engineer who thinks the automobile has had its day and has been working for many years to develop a flying car says: "The development of aircars stems from a confluence of need, desire, and enabling technology. To gauge the need, one needs look no further than our automobile-choked roadways. Building virtual 'highways in the sky' would be a modest technical achievement in the almost unused airspace above us."

The current most successful and most promising project of a flying car proposes it to look like a small fighter jet with stubby wings. It has eight rotary engines, which look mostly like those that are in Mazda sport cars. As the designer of the Skycar says about the car: "two of these engines, which turn fan blades to produce thrust, are mounted in each of four large pods, called nacelles, at the front and back of the fuselage. The nacelles tilt downward for takeoff and landing and turn horizontally for level flight. These engines will enable the Skycar to cruise at 480 kilometers per hour at a height of 9 kilometers (though so far it has been tested only in low-altitude flights). The Skycar is designed to keep flying if one or more engines fail, as long as they are in different nacelles. In the event of multiple engine failures � which could happen from, say, flying into a flock of birds � two ballistically ejected parachutes will carry the vehicle gently to the ground."
The investments in this kind of technology already increased the index of billion dollars. In addition its enough to mention private companies and self employed inventors who spend a lot of money on the experiments in this field as well. The experience of Moller's enterprise whose design of a flying car is considered to be one of the most successful and promising marks that the cost of their first car will be around $1 million, but they hope that if it will be really successful and will attract the attention of customers and investors to reduce the price to $40,000 or $60,000 so that it'll be compared to middle-class luxury car.

Understandably the introduction of this kind of transportation to the public use will change the modern transportation forever. There will be no need to spend hours in car during the rush hours, but exploit the free sky space instead. As soon as the concept of vertical take off cars will be realized there will be a reduced need in using aircrafts as means of transportation. Flying cars will be safer and cheaper. There will be less fear because of SARS, terrorist attacks and other negative impacts that people associate with using aviation. So even despite high initial costs of the car it's exploitation and fuel expenses will be smaller than of a regular automobile, because as the scientists plan the fuel will be on half from regular gas and on half from water. In future it's also supposed that engines will work just on regular water or some sort of a safer gas substitute. As a result skycars will cause a smaller impact on the environment and will ecologically safer than modern types of transportation that work on fuels produced from oil. The car industry will have to be requited as the flying car technology is more related to the aviation technology than to automobile. As a result there will appear changes in the management and industry and that will change the functioning of automobile producing giants forever.
The changes that will happen in transportation are expected and obvious, because the progress never stops. The development of aviation technologies, aerodynamics and other related high tech proposes a new trend in car industry-flying cars that will unload busy highways and will occupy free sky space. The benefits are brightly visual, because transportation will be faster cheaper and less harmful for the environment and moreover it'll be safer for the passengers. But despite all the optimism that scientists have, flying car technology is very expensive now and requires deep research and studies both in theory and practices. And even though that the first models of such cars are planned to appear in two-three year period, the massive production can not be expected earlier than in 20 years. And it's even estimated that in such a long period of time not all the ideas and theories concerning the flyingcar technology will be turned into practice.
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