back to article (You can't) buy one now! The flying car makes its perennial return

Stop squeezing my knob. No seriously, I've had enough. "Then you give it a squeeze." OK but not until I'm ready. "You won't get any benefit until you squeeze it," he announces to the dark, crowded room before turning back to me. "Do it now. Go on, give it a quarter-turn to the right." Reluctantly, while everyone else …

Anonymous Coward

The flying car project is the modern version of a perpetual motion machine project.

"The Nigerian inventor building a flying jet car"

http://edition.cnn.com/2017/04/07/africa/jet-car-nigerian-inventor-flying/

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"The first commercial flying car in the world is now a fact,"

And they haven't started pre-production. Can anyone say lawsuit for wrongful advertising ?

"The easiest way to become a pilot" says the web page. Easiest way to become a smear on a wall, cliffside or tree trunk, I say - and that's when you manage to avoid embedding yourself in someone else's vehicle. At least you have to have a license to pilot - tends to keep things under control, what with annual pilot license fees in the thousands of euros and dozens of hours of actual flight time. At that expense level the dumbbells tend to drop out naturally.

Honestly, if I have an actual pilot license I wouldn't want to bother with this hybrid monstrosity. As a car its aerodynamics must be ridiculous, as a plane its range is ridiculous. You get the worst of both worlds and you pay large annual fees for the privilege.

I don't see this ever taking off. Real pilots will want a real plane to go places with, and rent a real car when they get there. Half a million bucks will get them plenty of travel destinations without the hassle this monstrosity must be.

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Anonymous Coward

I don't see this ever taking off

Ha!

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Re: "The first commercial flying car in the world is now a fact,"

"as a plane its range is ridiculous. "

And it's not even a plane. It's a gyrocopter. I suspect there's a good reason there aren't all that many in use around the world.

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Re: "The first commercial flying car in the world is now a fact,"

"annual pilot license fees in the thousands of euros"

The CAA charge about £150 for a licence and renewal is, I think, about £90. Not exactly thousands. You may also need £100 or so for a medical.

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In France, you have to fly a dozen or so times (not hours) a year at a rate of over €100 (depending on your club, apparently) per flight in order to validate that you can renew you license. If you don't have sufficient recorded flights, you cannot renew the license.

Don't how how much renewal costs though. Still, the whole process is an order of magnitude above just £150. And you're certified to fly an actual plane that can cross all of France in just a few hours. This joke of PR stunt will do all of 200km in the air, if that, at the cost of half a million and a pilot's license.

Anyone with a pilot's license will not even consider putting money in that stupidity even if they have it, is what I'm saying.

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Fly one that close to the Golden Gate Bridge[0] ...

... and you'll probably discover just exactly how cold The Bay is. I seriously doubt it's built to float, especially not with a couple dozen 20mm rounds run through it.

[0] Insert your own local high profile landmark and LZ as you see fit.

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Re: Cruise control

"

And that's in three dimensions, so first of all self driving cars need to happen and solve those problems in the limited two dimensional space of roads. Then when the lessons have been learnt they can be extrapolated to three dimensions and complex, invisible hazards.

"

The complete opposite is in fact the case. It is far, far easier to make a fully automated aircraft than a fully automated car. Aircraft do not have to contend with unexpected obstacles, road junctions, traffic lights, pedestrians or other traffic mere meters away that may behave in an unpredictable manner.

And 3 dimensions make collision avoidance easier rather than more difficult as it provides an additional 2 directions to move. An aircraft does not have to accurately track a narrow road, and can be miles off-course except when transitioning from air to ground or vice-versa - and such transitions can be at a relatively few fixed points that are provided with navigation aids. Already a commercial airliner can be (and often is) put on autopilot and flies itself from the moment it takes off to the moment it touches down. Granted the pilot is necessary to take commands from air traffic controllers and feed them into the autopilot, but it would be trivial to provide a way of feeding the autopilot wirelessly from the ground.

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TRT
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Re: Cruise control

increasing degrees of freedom.

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Seems Darwinian

Ensures that the people with lots of money aren't totally stupid.

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I liked the Moller...

It looked like the cockpit of a typical fighter jet, but with four gimbaled jet engine nacells (one at each corner) & a pair more flanking a T tail at the back. If they had ever gotten it to work, reliably, safely, & (hopefully) cheaply, then it probably would have sold so many units it would be as common as most mid sized SUV's are at the moment.

Too bad it had the storeage capacity of a grocery sack, the unpowered emergency glide path of a meteor taking a firey dive into the planet, & never got much farther than the prototype.

*Pout*

Don't even get me started on Personal Jet Packs.

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Re: I liked the Moller...

Why not? Frankly, the Martin Jetpack looks kinda real, even if you still can't buy one - it does seem to be an actual flying thing. Not the most tuxedo-compatible gadget, I give you that though...

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Happy

Re: I liked the Moller...

I like the Moller...

...approach of constantly collecting money and never delivering anything remotely capable of flight.

// he's been doing it for what? 30? 40 years?

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Re: I liked the Moller...

Moller has been fleecing the credulous for over 50 years now

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Re: I liked the Moller...

"If they had ever gotten it to work, reliably, safely, & (hopefully) cheaply,"

Yeah, it's looked pretty but until someone invents a Mr Fusion, it ain't ever going to happen. Using thrust to keep you in their is very, very costly without decent sized wings. Wings which can't be strong enough and foldable/stowable to offer much lift unless they are small which means very high horizontal speeds to be useful. Compare a jet fighter with a glider.

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MrT
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"... I have no interest in childish double-entendres." ... - A. Dabbs, Esq., 14/4/17

Normal service has been resumed. Rumours of an airborne snatch squad descending on unsuspecting pedestrians walking stifly along between gym and newsagent have been greatly exaggerated...

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Calories (or whatever measure of energy expenditure you prefer)

Given the various fit bands will have accuracy levels of who know what...

Why not just use the (probably also wildly inaccurate) calorie estimate the spin bike gives you - all the gym bikes I have ever used give you distance / calories etc data if you check (& these were fairly low tech bikes in cheapo gyms)

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Re: Calories (or whatever measure of energy expenditure you prefer)

"Given the various fit bands will have accuracy levels of who know what... Why not just use the (probably also wildly inaccurate) calorie estimate the spin bike gives you"

Short of a lab setup monitoring oxygen intake, there isn't really a reliable way to measure calorie usage; even a heart rate and respiration monitor relies on all kinds of assumptions and calibration to tell you anything close to sensible. This means that the only sensible way to monitor your activity is to use the same monitor all the time - you're never going to get a really accurate measure, but at least you can compare what you're doing now with what you did last week. The monitors built in to gym equipment don't work for that; not only can you not take them with you when you're not at the gym, but even using the same make and model equipment in the same gym doesn't guarantee the same results if, for example, one has been greased more recently than the other.

Basically, unless you take it all really seriously and have proper monitors with good calibration and so on, you'll generally get just as accurate results from finding an old calculator and hitting the "rand" button as you will from using a variety of different cheap monitors.

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Trollface

Re: Calories (or whatever measure of energy expenditure you prefer)

"But even using the same make and model equipment in the same gym doesn't guarantee the same results if, for example, one has been greased more recently than the other."

Indeed, if one has been greased more recently it can make a difference! But also one must remember to shower one's self after or else one will ruin one's new suite when going to the club after the gym.

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Trollface

Re: Calories (or whatever measure of energy expenditure you prefer)

one will ruin one's new suite when going to the club after the gym

Myself, I prefer a club that supplies its own furniture.

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Monitoring oxygen intake

Can't they do it the other way around, and monitor CO2 output? Since that's released by the skin as well as the lungs, maybe there is a way for a fitness band/watch to someday get a fairly accurate calorie count.

Interestingly, the estimates for calories burned while running seem to be in a pretty narrow band - it is basically related to your weight and the number of miles you ran. Speed is irrelevant, an elite runner running 8 miles in 35 minutes will burn about the same number of calories as I do running the same distance in 70 minutes, if we weigh the same. And even if we don't, weight isn't a huge factor so you can basically figure 100 calories per mile and maybe add or remove 10 for every 40 pounds over/under 180 you weigh.

I can totally understand why the range for cycling varies so much - you have not only the distance traveled and weight of the rider, but elevation change, wind, riding position, rolling resistance, and weight of the bicycle. You can't come up with an easy formula, because even a beginner could average 15 mph on flat ground on a windless day riding a carbon fiber bike, but not even a Tour De France winner could manage 15 mph on a windy day going up and down hills, riding a heavy framed fat tire bike.

I'm kind of surprised they can't get the estimate range pretty narrow for spin though, if you measure in "miles". A strong cyclist can hit the same rpm as a weaker one using more resistance. Just as he may pedal the same speed on the road but be in a higher gear so he goes faster.

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Re: Calories (or whatever measure of energy expenditure you prefer)

@Cuddles

In other words, measuring things properly is hard work. And a lot more fun than exercise.

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Re: Calories (or whatever measure of energy expenditure you prefer)

Surely the easiest AND most accurate measurement would be to use an electric generator connected to a variable load as the "friction" device. You can then trivially measure the watt-hours generated and multiply by 860.421 to convert to calories, perhaps multiplying by a fixed efficiency factor.

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Re: Calories (or whatever measure of energy expenditure you prefer)

Spin bikes? You go to much posher gyms than I do.

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Re: Calories (or whatever measure of energy expenditure you prefer)

"Spin bikes? You go to much posher gyms than I do."

What's the difference between a "spin bike" and a "normal" exercise bike?

(No, since I ask, I've not been to a gym in many, many years. Do they still have medicine balls and indian clubs?)

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Re: Calories (or whatever measure of energy expenditure you prefer)

They are pretty much the same, the main difference is that a spin bike is in a room with a lot of identical bikes, and one in the front facing the rest for the instructor. Nothing stops you from doing 'spin' on the 'exercise bike' found out in the main gym next to the treadmills and stair climbers, other than motivation to push yourself as hard as the instructor would.

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Re: Calories (or whatever measure of energy expenditure you prefer)

Ah. So "spin" in this case means "propaganda", yes? As in "one born every minute"?

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Re: Calories (or whatever measure of energy expenditure you prefer)

"Surely the easiest AND most accurate measurement would be to use an electric generator connected to a variable load as the "friction" device."

No, all that does is measure the work done on the generator. The human body isn't 100% efficient, so that won't tell you how much energy you've used in total to do that work once you take waste into account. Since different bodies have different efficiencies, there's no easy way to convert between the two, and once you throw in things like wind, slopes, different surfaces, and so on, it all becomes rather complicated.

@DougS

"I can totally understand why the range for cycling varies so much - you have not only the distance traveled and weight of the rider, but elevation change, wind, riding position, rolling resistance, and weight of the bicycle."

That's all just as important for running though - try running up a mountain on a dirt trail on a windy day and compare that to running on a flat road in the calm. The only real difference between the two is that most people tend to stick to nice flat paths for running, while cyclists have the strange habit of deliberately finding the biggest hills possible. Cycling isn't really inherently more difficult to estimate energy use, it's just that the average cyclist is likely to see more varied conditions than the average runner; running gets just as tricky once you start looking at people like trail runners.

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Re: Calories (or whatever measure of energy expenditure you prefer)

Wind hardly affects running at all unless it is extremely strong. Sure, it might feel like you are working harder against a 20 mph wind, but if you do the calculations for a typical 5-10 mph runner it is only a few percent difference.

I agree about hills, I'd guess the '100 calories per mile' is probably for relatively flat runs (maybe even on a track?) so if you have a lot of hills you are doing more work, but I'm not sure exactly how much more. I just know that in my regular running routes, I much prefer getting the big hills over with early instead of reversing direction and having them at the end!

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Stop playing with your knob, and get on a real bike.

"Let's have a moment of silence for all those stuck in traffic on their way to the gym to ride a stationary bicycle." —Earl Blumenauer

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I do wish he'd leave my knob alone

Bluebottle: Yes, why do you not open the door?

Eccles: Okay, I'll- How do you open a door?

Bluebottle: You turn the knob on your side.

Eccles: I haven't got a knob on my side!

Bluebottle: On the door!

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Re: I do wish he'd leave my knob alone

The door doesn't have a knob, either!

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Thumb Up

TOOOOOOOOOONNNNNNNNNNSSSSSSS!!!!!!

That is all.

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Rotors "powered by the wind"

Actually, that's pretty much how a gyroplane/autogyro works.

To quote Wikipedia...

"An autogyro is characterized by a free-spinning rotor that turns because of the passage of air through the rotor from below. The vertical (downward) component of the total aerodynamic reaction of the rotor gives lift for the vehicle, and sustains the autogyro in the air. A separate propeller provides forward thrust".

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WTF?

Re: Rotors "powered by the wind"

"...passage of air through the rotor from below..." ??

So the Wikipedia article (and we always believe them to be correct, yes?) is actually suggesting that the autogyro is in a constant state of falling and so stays up in the air...............

Time to take some more of those pretty pills maybe??

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Angel

Re: Rotors "powered by the wind"

It's neither powered by the wind, nor lifted by it. "Wind" is defined as a movement of the air, whether naturally or artificially generated. Gyros and fixed-wing aircraft fly by hurling themselves through the air. This creates relative airflow past the aircraft, but it's not "wind".

A gyro is powered by its engine which drives it forward, generating airflow over the rotor and making it spin. The spinning rotor generates lift and the gyro slips the surly bonds of Earth. Kites are powered by the wind, and cannot fly without it.

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Re: Rotors "powered by the wind"

"A gyro is powered by its engine.... Kites are powered by the wind, and cannot fly without it."

And flying cars are powered by hot air.

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Re: Rotors "powered by the wind"

> Kites are powered by the wind, and cannot fly without it.

Not true if you can run.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Rotors "powered by the wind"

In which case you are still using the air mass by applying your kinetic energy and the string to the kite to overcome the lack of wind. Try flying your kite in a vacuum. No air means no lift. Wind means nothing when you have more energy than it.

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Re: Rotors "powered by the wind"

> actually suggesting that the autogyro is in a constant state of falling

No. The rotor is tilted with the leading edge of the disk containing the blades higher than the trailing edge. Thus the air passes from the underside of the disk to the upperside interacting with the blades as it does so. This is so whether the vehicle is level, climbing, or descending.

This is in contrast to a helicopter where the air is pumped from above the rotor disk to below (unless the engine fails in which case it goes into auto-rotate mode which is as above, except in that case it _is_ in a state of falling).

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Re: Rotors "powered by the wind"

> to overcome the lack of wind

So you agree that your 'cannot fly without wind' was incorrect.

> lack of wind. Try flying your kite in a vacuum

'Lack of wind' does not imply a vacuum. The air does not disappear because it is not moving.

> Wind means nothing when you have more energy than it.

Try flying a kite by running downwind!

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TRT
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Re: Rotors "powered by the wind"

The guy sitting next to me on the last long haul I took didn't seem to be able to fly without wind.

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Anonymous Coward

On spinning bikes, the knob can often be found between your legs.

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Pint

Up, Up & Away!

If that pile of expensive junk qualifies as a flying car then we have had "flying cars" since 1932 (or earlier). Here is an example of one such 1932 model (a '32 Pitcairn Autogiro):

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J4vLyc2MZdM

Enjoy the weekend!

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Re: Up, Up & Away!

Up, up and away! indeed - 36 minutes to pub o'clock and counting. Have a nice weekend, everyone!

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optional

this seems to be the nearest thing to reality

https://www.terrafugia.com/the-transition/

drivable planes rather than flying cars, all seem a bit shit though , pity the moller thing was a ponzi scheme they did look good.

If you have the money to invest in one of these flyingcars/driveable planes then surely a helicopter makes sense as you can fly and get to where you need to go without the need for a car.

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Of calories and flying cars

Turning the heating down by 1 degC in the winter will burn more calories than any reasonnable amount of exercise while saving a bit of cash. Win-win!

The thing with flying cars is that while the concept might sound appealing, the idear really is appaling. Most people already fail at navigating their car properly in 2-D, imagine the disaster if flying cars ever bacame a thing. Thankfully it's ulikely to happen, because no-one in their right mind actually wants one. It's expensive, cubersome and extremely impractical. People who want to fly for fun can get an ultralight at a fraction of the price, and people who want to skip jams can get a 2-wheeled death machine at a (very) small fraction of the price and with less danger to themselves and others. Plus, these actually work.

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Bah!

Before showing anyone a new airplane with its wings folded and claiming it as a flying car, the VC guys should make inventors watch 30 minutes of Russian dash-cam footage from YouBend.

If the inventor still has the nerve to trot out a picture of his/her concept, we might have a winner.

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Re: Bah!

Uhhmmm, they've done way more than show pretty renders already:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VRRnXq41UV4

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