“A flying car should be for everybody, but you can’t make every car driver into a pilot”, says Prof. Dr. Heinrich H. Bülthoff.
He is the director of the Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics, where the European Union (EU) funds him and his colleagues to study and understand ‘flock behaviour’ – the physics and psychology of why birds do not collide when changing direction suddenly and frequently in flight.
About seventy biologists, computer scientists, mathematicians, physicists and psychologists work in a 6.2 million US dollar study to ”make the dream a reality, researching the feasibility of small commuter air vehicles ease the world’s traffic congestion.”
While NASA is working to implement ‘sky-ways’ in America with experience gained from outer space, the EU-German group, called MyCopter, is tackling similar problems from “a bird’s eye view” of the sensory perception of living creatures.
“The idea is to fly in uncontrolled airspace without interfering with all the other aircraft.”
Bülthoff said, the plan is to make the flying vehicles so intelligent, they communicate with each other and avoid collisions without any human input.
Just now, the possibility of this depends on progress with autonomous cars on the ground.
Celebrated science fiction author Isaac Asimov wrote in a New York Times article in 1964 that fifty years later self-driving cars would be reality, and that autonomous cars will fly; He was right on. Google and Terrafugia are proving him right on the ground and in the air, respectively.
The AeroMobile has completed its prototype stage and is undergoing regular flight testing in Europe; In America, the Terrafugia, an MIT-student success story, is nearing production readiness and has been seen flying in Oshkosh and on TV-News everywhere.
Alternative transportation is alive and well and thriving on the ground and in the air. NASA is looking into the future and into your driveway to find that PVA.
Not road-able, but in the scope of getting more people into the air, is Raptor Aircraft. The connection with automobiles is its use of a Volkswagen/ Audi V6 TDI engine. Another similarity is the plan to mass-produce the Raptor; using the open source path, making production capacity open-ended. “By definition, open source will generate multiple vendors, [producers] in multiple countries very early in the life of the Raptor,” is the explanation given.
During researching this topic anew for this series, we discovered many links – listed below – which might be of interest to readers wishing to learn more about what still seemed impossible at the end of the last century; Henry Ford and Isaac Asimov told us long ago that ‘flying cars’ WILL come true.
Multi discipline transport research & innovation by EU commission
General article on PAVs
Wikipedia’s take on the subject
A technical article from HowStuffWorks
Good Bloomberg story
Story, pictures & video from Aeromobil
Areromobile 3.0 video
A word from from Aeromobil
A word from Terrafugia
Carplane from Germany is the newest flying car