Video: Pentagon Dreams of Flying Car


flying-car[Video below.] The dream of building a flying car has fascinated many a garage tinkerer, and now it’s also set to become a real military program. A Pentagon research agency announced Thursday that it will host a meeting in mid-January for companies interested in building a real-life flying car as part of a new military program dubbed “Transformer.”

“The objective of the Transformer (TX) program is to demonstrate a one- to four-person transportation vehicle that can drive and fly, thus enabling the warfighter to avoid water, difficult terrain, and road obstructions as well as IED and ambush threats,” said the announcement put out by the Pentagon’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. “The vehicle will be capable of driving on prepared surface and light off-road conditions, while flight functionality will require Vertical Takeoff and Landing.”

In looking at flying cars, DARPA is performing a core part of its mission: seeking revolutionary technology for the military. A flying car would theoretically allow the military to fly over terrain where a ground vehicle is vulnerable to ambush, or travel to places not accessible by roads.

But the flying-car market, however, is an area notorious for inflated claims.

One contender in the flying-car market, Moller International, touts a Skycar with the ability to take off and land vertically, a specific requirement of the new Pentagon program. But the company also has a troubled history; in 2003, it settled a claim with the Securities and Exchange Commission, which accused the company of making “false and misleading statements” and that it “exaggerated the true scope of patents the company held for the Skycar.”

Another company, Massachusetts-based Tarrafugia, offers a “street-legal airplane” for sale; it’s essentially a car with wings that can be folded up for road travel. But the aircraft, which is expected to cost $194,000, won’t be ready until 2011, according to the company.

Larger companies have also tried their hand at the “flying car” concept, though also not without regrets. A few years ago, Bell Helicopter teamed with an Israeli company called Urban Aeronautics on a car-sized aircraft called the X-Hawk.

The X-Hawk is a ducted-fan vehicle that could take off and land vertically, which would allow it to maneuver in a city. Though Urban Aeronautics continues to work on the X-Hawk, Bell CEO Richard Millman earlier this year called his company’s one-time cooperation on the aircraft “embar­rass­ing,” according to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

“That was a mis­take,” he told the newspaper. “Built before I got here. I wish we’d never done it.”

 Click below for a video of the Moller SkyCar:

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{AOL Science/ Newscenter}


  1. What’s a few more billion in debt for this mishigas. Fly by helicopter, fly by plane; this sounds like a five year olds imagination wandering. Even if such a vehicle was invented, how do they propose to regulate traffic???

  2. All these flying cars are shams. As an engineer, i have looked into these claims and they are all worthless designs for one reason or another. If anyone or government is serious about inventing a practical flying car there is only one address to seek; Richard Branson’s Virgin Group. Branson has succeeded in civilian specialty aircraft and spacecraft. His engineering is superb. He can do this too.