Everyone dreams of a Jetson car. If a practical flying car became reality, overcoming friction and traffic jams could be part of the equation for a fuel-efficient future. Is it possible that a Skycar could be proven technology before the end of 2009?
It will be if Giles Cardozo's dreams come true. Cardozo is the brainchild behind the Parajet Skycar. With a range of 180 km (110 miles) on bioethanol, this vehicle promises alternative transportation at least to scientists accessing remote areas for study if not for the Janes and Georges of future-suburbia. And it is about to be put to the test... (more photos of the current generation Skycar over the fold).
The flying car relies on the most modern advances in flexible wing technology which enable lifting the kind of weight a vehicle implies. Cardozo integrated a fan into the car itself for stable launch and landing capability. According to Cardozo, the engineering trick was achieving a reliable transfer of power from the wheels, in driving mode, to the fan, for take-off. The Skycar is powered by bioethanol fueling a 140bhp Yamaha R1 superbike engine with a lightweight automatic CVT (continuously variable transmission) gear-box. The Skycar has passed muster as a road-legal vehicle. Now remains the test of its flying capability.
The test will naturally involve a high-profile expedition. While the film reels roll, and expedition crew and leaders accompany in heavy-duty traditional vehicles, the Skycar will drive/fly from London to Timbuktu, over 6000km (3700 miles), starting in January 2009. The flight across the English Channel will be the first airborne challenge for pilot and designer Cardozo. How much of the trip will be done in the air remains to be calculated, dependent upon wind and weather conditions. But a successful test in the 'Empty Quarter' of the Sahara would prove the vehicle capable in harsh conditions.
The Skycar can be driven by anyone with a driver's license and paragliding certification -- for now. It has built in safety systems in case of mid-air power loss. The car should be able to glide safely to the ground without any motor assistance. As a back-up, the vehicle is also outfitted with a roof-mounted parachute.
If all goes well with the testing, Skycar will put the gears in motion to bring the flying car to market, targeting 35 to 40 thousand British pounds sticker price. If the Skycar becomes just another toy for dune buggy fanatics to make tracks in ever more remote corners of nature, the Skycar will have failed its potential. But if one imagines a future with Skycars available in emergency situations, for example delivering aid to earthquake victims where roads are seriously damaged and uncrossable, for scientists exploring the planet to help guide better environmental policy, and as part of a transport infrastructure that uses fuel-efficient vehicles in an integrated network....well, a girl's gotta dream.