A few weeks ago I was fascinated by the competitors’ bikes tessellated on top of the team support cars during the Tour of Britain [see my post entitled ‘Tessallating bikes‘ on September 10th, 2014]. What if instead of tessellating bikes we could use origami to fold away a set of wings? Many people have dreamed of escaping the frustration and congestion of traffic on the road with a convertible. Not the classic convertible but a car that converts to a plane. One small company from Massachusetts, Terrafugiama has already flown a prototype flying car with self-folding wings and is working on an advanced prototype capable of vertical take-off and highway driving. Vertical take-off with wings is difficult so as an alternative a group of universities in Europe is studying the feasibility of a Personal Air Transportation System (PATS) based on a helicopter, known as MyCopter.
These convertibles are difficult to design in practice due to the space constraints for a flying car to take-off and land, the need for two propulsion or at least two transmission systems, the different type of suspension required for comfortable driving compared to landing, the current approach to crashworthiness in cars, and the overwhelming requirement for a light-weight system if there is any hope of getting airborne. If you add to this list the desire for an environmental-friendly vehicle then perhaps there is no hope, unless we can cross a Tesla with the Airbus prototype electric plane, the E-plane! [See my post entitled ‘Are electric cars back?‘ on May 28th, 2014]
‘Why we’re not driving the friendly skies‘ by Stuart F. brown in the New York Times on August 22nd, 2014
‘If cars could fly‘ by Nick Bilton in the New York Times on June 30th, 2010