DARPA is one step closer to its flying Humvee

When you or I ask for a flying car, we get "Terrafugia's Transition," a roadable aircraft. When DARPA asks for a flying car, they get a Hummer like the one pictured up top — a Hummer that is capable of taking off and landing vertically; traversing off-road terrain with ease; and withstanding small-arms fire, all while accommodating up to four passengers.

Leave it to DARPA to make you feel dissatisfied with your flying vehicle.

Of course, Terrafugia's airborne transportation option is already well on its way to a street near you — commercial production of the Transition is projected to begin in 2012. Meanwhile, DARPA's airborne Humvee (which is known in official circles by the infinitely cooler name, "the Transformer" or "TX" for short) is still in its developmental stages.

But an actual TX isn't as far off as you might think; DARPA claims that engineering companies AAI and Lockheed Martin have both produced "feasible designs" for the Transformer, and that both companies' concepts have progressed to Phase 2 of development. ("Phase 2," in this instance, means that we can expect prototypes of each firm's design by the end of 2012.)

DARPA is one step closer to its flying Humvee

Shown up top is an illustration of Lockheed's latest Transformer concept; shown here is AAI's. If the inspection of the prototypes goes according to plan, DARPA will usher in Phase 3 of the design process by choosing one of the companies to develop a prototype capable of ground and flight demonstrations by 2015.

[Aviation Week via PopSci]
Images by Lockheed and AAI via Aviation Week