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Tired of the carpool lane? Take a flying scooter to work!

By skim123 in MLP
Sun Oct 22, 2000 at 12:33:06 PM EST
Tags: Science (all tags)

NASA is set to test fly a new contraption of theirs, a flying scooter. (Seriously, if nothing else, check out the drawing of the scooter on the article, it's neat.) It uses two fans for lift and can reach speeds of 80 mph! Crap, that would be scary (again, see the drawing on the site, it looks like the guy's about to fall out of it).

Don't expect folks to be using these flying scooters to get around in the future... it seems that NASA is using this as a starting point to look into other forms of vertical takeoff and landing vehicles. But still, you have to admit it would be pretty cool to land into work in one of these things.


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The next great transportation technology
o Flying scooters 3%
o Flying skateboards 20%
o Flying mopeds 3%
o Flying rollerskates 10%
o Flying bicycles 10%
o Flying unicycles 21%
o Flying bobsleds 29%

Votes: 55
Results | Other Polls

Related Links
o flying scooter
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Tired of the carpool lane? Take a flying scooter to work! | 10 comments (5 topical, 5 editorial, 0 hidden)
Solotrek have talking about this for a while now.. (1.33 / 3) (#3)
by haakon on Sun Oct 22, 2000 at 05:19:59 AM EST

It's good to see they have proceded to a point were can do initial testing unlike some other people in the personal air transport business

Interesting, but how feasible? (4.66 / 3) (#5)
by IoaPetraka on Sun Oct 22, 2000 at 09:35:45 AM EST

I'm not sure about the export distribution of Popular Science, but anyone who has had access to this magazine in the past has seen countless drawings and articles about designs like this almost since the magazine's conception. True, the dream of personal flight extends far beyond this particular magazine, going back way back to the days when men strapped elaborate wings to themselves and ended up as a puddle at the bottom of a high place.

Technology has certainly changed since then, but I have to wonder if such a dream is feasible at all based on our current set of parameters in this world. Surely, if one gets creative enough and extends their thoughts far enough into the future options exist. Working with today's principles of aerodynamics and fuel efficiency though, just how possible is this?

For instance, this contraption might do well in a controlled environment, it might even do well scooting around Atlanta Georgia, but what happens when you take this to a city like Chicago where powerful gusts of wind rip amongst the skyscrapers and threaten to even lift walking pedestrians off of their feet if they are light enough? What happens on a 120 degree day in Arizona where hot air effects the lift properties. What about a subzero winter where severe icing becomes a problem. True, a person sitting out in the open flying through the air at 80 mph is hardly going to be inclined to use this device in the winter, but it seems it would be a semi-trivial matter to get a small environment controlled bubble around the operator's area, thus returning the problem to icing.

What about traffic laws? You know the governments of the world are going to be rather anxious to limit just who can operate this, and under what circumstances.

What about night? I don't see any lights on this prototype drawing, what are the considerations for night flying? What do overpasses, powerlines, telephone lines, small office buildings, and large trees all have in common? They are high enough to pose a threat to this method of transportation, and none of them have any sort of lighting attached to them. Unless this thing can blast its surroundings with super powerful halogen lighting that extends beyond 150 feet, flying at night would be a severe hazard. The problem with that is putting such powerful lights on a vehicle would cripple all the other vehicles coming towards it. Like one of those inconsiderate drivers who leave their brights on non-stop, multiplied by 5.

Okay, so it can travel at a good clip, but what are its hovering capabilities? How easy is it to handle in a hover, and will it become unstable? Picture a society that uses this mode of transportation a lot, you are going to have a bit of a traffic jam and slowdown situations when you get to cities. How will this traffic be directed? I've always imagined that when flying vehicles become a mainstay it will operate on a similiar principle to FAA regulations. Different altitudes for different directions. This would not be as easy to implement for low-flying personal craft though due to the nature of personal travel. Swerve over here to the grocery store, swerve over here to pick up a rental movie. Are you really going to want to adjust 400 feet of altitude just to skip down the block? People will cheat, and the results would be a disaster.

Hey, I'm all for this. I'm like any other human, I long for the ability to just take off and zoom to work without the hassle of fume filled traffic stops, construction, and such. I've been saying for quite some time that the construction and road building agencies should drop all of the millions they pour into road decay every year and put it directly towards research and development of flying vehicles. Something they will never do though, unless they can find a way to justify their existance after a large scale migration to personal flight. Just thinking of all the zillions of dollars wasted on repairing old strips of road over and over. So much could be done with that money to rid ourselves of the problem forever.

I still have my doubts though. Interesting stuff however.

Ioa Aqualine Petra'ka

wouldn't couterrotating rotor *wings* (3.33 / 3) (#8)
by el_guapo on Sun Oct 22, 2000 at 11:51:44 AM EST

be more efficient than ducted fans??? fans produce thrust, rotor wings (a la a helicopter) produce *lift*, (although i know they're related). There's a reason most private planes use an unducted fan for propulsion and most helicopters (OK, all, i guess) use a rotor wing for lift....
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Safety Concerns Perhaps? (4.00 / 2) (#9)
by IoaPetraka on Sun Oct 22, 2000 at 03:29:43 PM EST

Good point you make. I've seen ducted fans or small jets used on almost all personal carriers like this, even the larger car sized ones. I'll venture a guess. Open rotors are going to pose a big safety hazard in pretty much any scenario. Keep in mind, if folks want this machine to be able to land in a parking lot, keeping such hazards to a minimum will take far precedence of performance issues. This is the case with everything on the consumer market that gets approved.

Ioa Aqualine Petra'ka
[ Parent ]
Pollwise... (none / 0) (#10)
by BonzoESC on Tue Oct 24, 2000 at 08:54:11 PM EST

Isn't a moped just the same as a bicycle with a weed-whacker engine attached (usually with tie-wraps), or am I totally off-base to another type of motorcycle?


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Tired of the carpool lane? Take a flying scooter to work! | 10 comments (5 topical, 5 editorial, 0 hidden)
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