Astounding as it sounds, DARPA has announced plans to develop a flying car to be used by the military to quickly move through the air without having to deal with roadside bombs or ambushes. And this incredible vehicle isn’t just any flying car. It is in fact, a Humvee. Remember Terrafugia the ones who first brought us the flying car? Well now they’re back, and they say it’s time to get started working on a new model to help fight in the battlefield of the future.
Terrafugia’s incredible development is funded by $41 million from the defense department. The vehicle will be able to withstand machine gun fire, take to the air vertically or horizontally, and then land taking only a moment to retract the wings and propellers before driving down the road. The vehicle will be the first truly all terrain vehicle as it can not only fly, but drive at speeds comparable to an ordinary humvee. The vehicle, developers suggest, would be able to immediately avoid one of the most dangerous threats facing soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan today: roadside bombs. Just last October a roadside bomb detonated and killed eleven soldiers and two NATO troops as it was moving to rescue a captive. The loss of life in cases like this is always tragic.
Elsewhere, some interested individuals are suggesting if such a device were to ever end up becoming popular there would likely be civilian models as well or at least comparable models for ambulances, police, and private citizens. And the medical evacuation of troops is among the chief examples of how a vehicle that can not only drive on the ground but also fly through the air would be useful. Such a device would be capable of lifting up wounded casualties and taking them to a nearby medical installation or even allow for supplies to be delivered via air drop to troops entrenched in an area and out of reach of helicopters.
Currently one of the limitations of aerial vehicles is the difficulty with refueling. Just as was the case with the Terrafugia, this vehicle is expected to be able to function primarily on ordinary gasoline, and while it likely will be a gas guzzler, will be able to drive more discretely than landed helicopters. The idea of an aerial vehicle driving into a town and then flying to the next one over unexpectedly will no doubt give a significant tactical advantage to its operators. But as with so many other projects, this one will need extensive testing and development before it will be seen on roads or in the air.
It’s always been said that flying cars would be one of the signs that the future had indeed arrived. But as we check in on the year 2010 to see how technology has progressed, we realize that not only will the introduction of flying cars become possible on our own streets, but they will soon be used by the military as well.