Uncle Sam wants a flying car

Flying cars are standard issue for agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., in the Marvel Comics universe. They come in lots of different makes and models, but all have wheels that rotate, Back to the Future style.

Now the U.S. military wants this oft-dreamt-about scifi vehicle to become reality. And all the geeks said: it’s about freaking time. Come on, we’ve been waiting forever for flying cars. Why has it taken this long to develop them?

DARPA — aka, the government science organization that the Internet owes its origins to — has launched a program called Transformer TX that hopes to manufacture a vehicle that operates like a rugged SUV on the ground, but can take off vertically to fly as high as 10,000 feet, all while carrying up to one thousand pounds. Best of all, its controls will be similar to other SUV vehicles, so no special training will be required to pilot the thing.

But this won’t be your garden variety flying car — it’s planned to be bigger, about the size of two Hummers put together. Potential technologies proposed for inclusion in the new vehicle are tilt-rotor fans (think Avatar‘s gunships), “adaptive wing structures” (I’m guessing wings that fold out somehow), and hybrid engines. Everything is still on the drawing board at this stage, but DARPA hopes to show off a working prototype to the Pentagon by 2015. They’ve allotted a $43 million budget for it.

All that aside, we all know only one thing really matters: Will it look cool? ‘Cause nobody wants to drive a clunky flying car.

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Robin Parrish
@robinparrish

Unathletic, uncoordinated tall man with endless creativity stampeding through his overactive brain. Comes with beard, wife, and two miniature humans. Novelist. General blogger and main Gaming Geek for ForeverGeek. Lead Blogger, Apple Gazette.

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