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Part II: Tomorrow’s Technology > Next-Generation Transportation: The Moller Sky...

Chapter 50. Next-Generation Transportation: The Moller Skycar

Perhaps one of the most futuristic items in the world of consumer gadgets is the flying car. The concept represents what could become the next generation of transportation; it has been fantasized about for decades in science fiction movies, cartoons such as the Jetsons, and popular culture in general. The components of an ideal flying car would most likely be part automobile and part plane. The ideal flying car would provide the ability to drive on the freeway, plus as an alternate mode of transportation, to be able to take off, perhaps vertically so that a runway isn’t required, and then fly to the chosen destination at great speed. What’s amusing about the part-car, part-plane concept is that just as we have discussions today about “smartphones” that are either PDAs wanting to be phones, or phones wanting to be PDAs, discussions in a few decades might well be about cars wanting to be planes, or planes wanting to be cars!

Although this all may still seem like science fiction, there is actuallya company that focuses on just this concept and has working prototypes that it someday hopes to launch into mass production. Moller International, founded in 1983, has a goal to design, develop, manufacture, and market personal vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) aircraft. VTOL is already in production in many aircraft such as the Hawker Harrier, a “jump-jet” fighter bomber originally manufactured by Hawker Siddeley Aviation. The Harrier first flew in 1966 and was used for military operations where conventional runways were not available on land, or for use from aircraft carriers. The vertical takeoff was achieved by using rotatable exhaust ports on the plane’s fuselage that could divert the engine thrust directly downward to provide lift, and then swivel back to a horizontal direction for forward flight once airborne.


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