A NASA competition between robots designed to shovel up moon dirt has ended in failure. The "Regolith Excavation Challenge" is intended to "promote the development of new technologies to excavate lunar regolith" - that is, to dig moon dirt. The California Space Authority, which ran the competition for NASA, said: "Excavation …
Just think of all those people driving around. You know the ones. They veer dangerously into your lane as they negotiate corners a little too broadly. They stare, stupefied at green lights, then suddenly slam on the accelerator, leaving you at the read light. They drift slowly over into your lane without using a turn signal, and without seeing you there. They careen wildly away from the bar, where they just polished off a pitcher of Guinness.
Now, think of them in 3 dimensions.
"....medium sheep"? Is there that much demand for contacting the ovine dead?
I'm now trying to handle the mental picture of a Ouija board with the words "Baa" and "Baa" at the top corners and the letters "B" and "A" in the area below.......
The bright side
Look at it. With 3 dimension to move in, those idiots will not only have gravity to contend with, but instead of driving around the ground, they'll get to drive INTO it!
This promises to drastically reduce the number of idiots who do manage to make it through the exams and give the non-idiots a safe and fast way of getting around. Once the idiots start running out anyways.
Why bother with flying cars?
Of course I would love one, as I'm just a few K ($) from getting a pilots license if I had the money to spend. But honestly, $250,000 to meet that list of requirements? I don't think so. The developement costs to do that would require adding one if not 2 decimal places. The easy to use part would simply require a variant form of auto pilot for it to be even reasonably safe. I think that AP system needs to be in place on road vehicles before we should aim for the air. (I know of test tracks and working systems but none of them have been put into production yet.)
... they can't design a working mechanised spade, and we are expected to trust them with our lives in a flying car? They should give the project to school kids, and get them to develop a prototype in LEGO(R): www.youtube.com/watch?v=GQ3AcPEPbH0
Count the number of dead cars on the roadside tomorrow on the way to work. Now imagine each of these cars falling 500 meters onto a random part of your favorite metropolis.
The reason we don't have this problem with light planes has mostly to do with low numbers of planes and airports. Airplanes are expensive, and pilot licensing rigorous. If any driver could be a pilot, and any car could fly, there is no amount of engineering that would make up for slack maintenance, equipment age, and operator carelessness. Short takeoff car-planes won't glide like light planes. Without power they will become bricks. Big bricks full of gasoline (or empty) falling on city cores.
Even if we could figure out the engineering to make such a vehicle workable under best case assumptions, this is still an idea that will never fly.
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