DARPA’s Flying Car

Darpa, the Defense Advance Research Projects Agency has announced that
while the flying car was not in the mainstream in the year 2000 as so
many of us had hoped, it could be hitting the streets, and lifting off
of them, by the year 2015.  The Transformer TX, as it is being called
is not quite a humvee, and not quite a helicopter, but it is completely
out of this world.

Project details of the Transformer TX are
sketchy, but the potential applications are generating enough interest
to build up a considerable budget for researchers, and quite a bit of
buzz in the consumer market as well.  Originally in 2009 when the name
“Transformer TX” was announced from the official Pentagon budget
report, several raised an eyebrow but did little else to research the
potential meaning of the name.  And then as development continued, the
$43 million budget item quickly became a reality as new information
entered the public eye.  And now we finally have the answer: the
Transformer TX is a military vehicle that is both a jeep and an
aircraft.  The vehicle, according to some sources, runs on gasoline
just as any other truck, but actually extends propellers which can take
off vertically with reasonable speed and then cruise like a single
engine aircraft.  After landing, it can then retract the propeller
blades and resume driving like a standard vehicle.  Information from
the Register indicates that it can carry quite a cargo with it as
well.  The Transformer TX allegedly can carry 1,000 lbs of cargo
including passengers and gear.

Previous VTOL (vertical take off
and landing) vehicles have been successful, but none have been
developed for military applications that can transform like this one. 
The passenger capacity within the vehicle would be four soldiers loaded
down with communications equipment, weapons, medical gear, and anything
else they may require in the field.  And the vertical liftoff can carry
the vehicle up to 10,000 feet.  And the vehicle is slated to be
semi-autonomous, meaning that soldiers can learn to fly one without
extensive training required like with traditional helicopters.  The
Transformer TX can be driven, transformed, and flown like a helicopter
by a standard soldier with less than a month’s training making it a
considerably useful vehicle in the field.

If DARPA truly is the
cutting edge of technology, then the transformer TX may be only the
beginning of a long line of flying cars designed to meet consumer
demands as well as military demands.  Just recently the Terrafugia
Transition was announced with the ability to drive on the runway, then
make it to an airport in order to fly off to a far off location, but
the Transformer TX, and others like it will likely make it possible to
drive your car and take it off from any location and subsequently land
it at any landing pad, rather than only being able to go to and from
airports.  The Transformer TX is a marvelous example of what exciting
technology awaits us in the future.