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FLYING CAR, full hover, fairly quiet, offered to US Marines

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No joystick here - just shift into 'F' and press 'up'

But not to worry: the Tyrannos team have thought of that. The vehicle is intended to be able to quite literally fly itself, and indeed if it is chosen for the Transformer TX programme it will have to do so without anyone on board (primarily in order to make the flight tests less expensive).

Flight controls for the Tyrannos flying car. Credit: Logi Aerospace

Just bend the flightpath to where you want, and step on it.

Flying in military or other special airspace where autonomous UAV operations are allowed, it will be legal to simply select a destination on a digital map, amend the suggested route if desired, and press a button. The Tyrannos will take off, fly to the chosen coordinates and land, completely hands off. (This sort of thing has already been shown to work in the real world by another US Marine project involving robotic supply helicopters.)

For operations under human control, the Tyrannos will be enormously easier to fly than a normal plane, chopper, or tiltrotor. There's no joystick, rudder pedals, throttle, or collective: just a steering wheel, accelerator, brake, and shift lever — like in a car.

The differences are that the shift's only active settings are "drive" and "fly", and the wheel has "up" and "down" paddles on it. The operator — not a pilot — sees a projected flightpath on the windscreen, which can be bent left or right, up or down using the wheel and paddles. The accelerator and brake make the plane proceed along the projected path. To hover, simply brake to a stop, then go up or down vertically using the paddles.

The active suspension also measures the aircraft's weight while on the ground, and the controls will limit the operator to manoeuvres that are actually possible: no hovering if too heavily loaded or if there isn't enough battery power, for example.

The same display, navigation, and control kit will allow minimally-trained operators to fly through clouds or rain following a pre-set or uploaded safe route, either entirely automatically or by following a corridor projected on the heads-up windscreen display.

According to Logi Aerospace:

The vehicle can actually climb, dive, roll, pitch, accelerate and decelerate much faster than we allow it. We simply limit it with the guidance system so that from the operator’s perspective, it seems to do everything a car can do, and more, while always acting like a car.

The Tyrannos is projected to be able to fly at up to 11,000 feet above sea level (with battery-boosted excursions as high as 14,000), but the designers suggest that this capability only be used for operations in highland and mountain regions. In general the sky-Hummer would operate at around 1,000 to 2,000 feet above ground, keeping it clear of most normal aircraft.

All this, according to the system's inventors, would allow the Marines to largely dispense with years-long flight school for Tyrannos operators: any lance-corporal having done a brief course would be able to fly a Tyrannos, just as he or she might drive a heavy truck or other specialist vehicle.

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