Feeds

US military offered flying hover car bike

Ducted-fan skyhog would be just 23 feet long

The essential guide to IT transformation

A noted US air'n'space crazytechware firm, engaged in building a comparatively humdrum hover killbot, has strongly suggested that their machine could in fact function as the long-yearned-for flying car - or flying bike anyway.

The 'Excalibur' sky-bike prototype from Aurora Flight Sciences

The proposed aerial steed. Pic: AFS

Aurora Flight Sciences of Virginia is already well known for its efforts on crewless stratocruiser planes, both hydrogen fuelled and - more radically - of sun-harvesting "Z-Wing" tiltship configuration. The company has also been working for a while on its "Excalibur" ducted-fan vertical takeoff aircraft.

The Excalibur is offered as a fairly normal high-autonomy aerial weapons platform (that is, normal among late-generation killer robots). Its prime mover, like most high-performance aircraft, is a turbine. The special sauce which makes it stand out among ducted-fan craft is that the fans themselves are driven electrically using turbine-generated juice rather than a mechanical gearbox, so saving on weight and allowing the main drive to be optimised for propelling the hover-plane in forward flight using lift from its wings.

Aurora has so far seen the Excalibur functioning in normal times as an attack craft, packing such traditional killbot favourites as the Hellfire missile and Viper Strike pocket-size smart glider bombs. Excalibur could face tough competition in this role from helicopters both manned and unmanned which can probably outperform it in the hover, and from winged aircraft which can probably match or exceed its cruise and loiter performance.

Now, however, the company seems keen to suggest that the innovative winged hovership could carry out other missions, making the most of its small footprint and vertical landing abilities. In particular, company reps have told the military press that they reckon Excalibur could carry a single human passenger - perhaps a special-forces operator. Given the craft's high level of autonomy (it requires no remote piloting, even for landing and takeoff) this passenger wouldn't need to be a qualified pilot.

The military need for such an aircraft could be marginal. But the Excalibur, as now described, would actually have many of the attributes of a flying car: Vertical takeoff, range, largely hands-off autopiloting. If it were quiet enough, it could be a Jetsons-style aerial ride - though apparently single-seat only.

There are still a few quibbles, though. Apparently the full-size, man-lifter Excalibur would be 21 feet wide and 23 feet long: Rather large for a flying bike.

For now, Aurora hopes to build a smaller trial job (pictured) to fly by the end of the year. If that goes well, they'll try to sell the larger full size sky-hog effort to the Army. ®

Gartner critical capabilities for enterprise endpoint backup

More from The Register

next story
Boffins attempt to prove the UNIVERSE IS JUST A HOLOGRAM
Is this the real life? Is this just fantasy?
China building SUPERSONIC SUBMARINE that travels in a BUBBLE
Shanghai to San Fran in two hours would be a trick, though
Our LOHAN spaceplane ballocket Kickstarter climbs through £8000
Through 25 per cent but more is needed: Get your UNIQUE rewards!
LOHAN Kickstarter push breaks TWELVE THOUSAND POUNDS
That's right, folks, you've stumped up OVER 9000 beer tokens - and counting
SpaceX prototype rocket EXPLODES over Texas. 'Tricky' biz, says Elon Musk
No injuries or near injuries. Flight stayed in designated area
Galileo, Galileo! Galileo, Galileo! Galileo fit to go. Magnifico
I'm just a poor boy, nobody loves me. But at least I can find my way with ESA GPS by 2017
Astronomers scramble for obs on new comet
Amateur gets fifth confirmed discovery
prev story

Whitepapers

Best practices for enterprise data
Discussing how technology providers have innovated in order to solve new challenges, creating a new framework for enterprise data.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Advanced data protection for your virtualized environments
Find a natural fit for optimizing protection for the often resource-constrained data protection process found in virtual environments.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?