DARPA Looking For Someone To Build Flying Cars

Illustration for article titled DARPA Looking For Someone To Build Flying Cars

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is looking for a few inventive companies looking for cash to develop the holy grail of automotive awesomeness — flying cars. As part of a Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) proposal, DARPA is looking for actionable plans for a military vehicle able to hold two or four people, drive up to sixty miles per hour, fit it inside an eight and a half by seven by twenty four foot box, then take of vertically and fly for two hours at 150 MPH. The obvious application is reconnaissance and evacuation with transportation in a large cargo plane, but fold these babies into the NASA SATS program and blamo — air cars for everyone! Complete proposal details and program specifics below.

SB091-014 TITLE: Personal Air Vehicle Technology TECHNOLOGY AREAS: Air Platform, Ground/Sea Vehicles OBJECTIVE: Define new and innovative technology components that enable building a vehicle which can either be used as a 2-4 person ground transport that can both drive on roads or be changed into a flying craft with vertical take off capability. Identify selected technologies providing propulsion, morphing wings, and/or flight controls that provide core elements for this multi-person vehicle. Identify issues to be resolved via trade studies and define demonstrations establishing the feasibility of the identified core component technologies. DESCRIPTION: A personal air vehicle that could transport 2 to 4 personnel either by driving on the ground or by flying would be suitable for many military scouting and personnel transport missions. This personal air vehicle should also have a vertical take-off capability that is not restricted to prepared surfaces for the most military utility. Desired personal air vehicle characteristics would be the ability to fly for 2 hours carrying a 2 to 4-person payload on one tank of fuel and can also safely travel of roads. The vehicle must be no wider than 8.5 feet and no longer than 24 feet, and no higher than 7 feet when in the road configuration. Vehicle control must support manually driving the vehicle on the ground and fully automated flight with manual flight control inputs that can override the fully automatic system. The challenge is to define the major components of such a vehicle that would be suitable for military scouting and personnel transport missions, yet are small enough, inexpensive enough, and easy enough to operate that it can be widely used. To achieve this it will be necessary to explore new and innovative technologies in one or more of the following areas: - Propulsion concepts that include vertical take off and vertical landing, optimized disk loading for the combined fly/drive mission, size, weight, and power suitable for a road drivable vehicle, efficient power plant and energy management combined with low specific fuel consumption, and installation considerations related to safety, vehicle controllability, and passenger/payload carrying on a vehicle. The optimized disk loading should allow safe take off/landing at unprepared sites. - Morphing wing/surfaces considerations including safe and rapid deployment and retraction, rugged construction, and ease of operation for a vehicle that can drive at up to 60 mph and fly at up to 150 mph. - Flight control considerations include human interfaces to autopilot, flight director, and/or auto-navigation systems, automated navigation/ positioning, automated sensors, automated fight planning and de-confliction with other users of the airspace. Size, weight, and power must be paramount as well as redundancy and reliability suitable for human passengers. PHASE I: Prepare an initial personal air vehicle concept design that supports the modeling of selected key elements (propulsion, morphing wing/surfaces, flight control). Develop detailed analysis of predicted performance for the selected key technical elements (propulsion, morphing wing/surfaces, and flight control). Perform modeling and simulation of the selected key technical elements, and define and develop key component technical milestones. Phase I deliverables will include for the selected key technologies suitable simulations, and modeling results and the development plans. PHASE II: Construct and demonstrate the operation of prototypes of the key component technologies (propulsion, morphing wing/surfaces and/or flight control). Establish performance parameters of these key technologies through experiments using the prototypes. PHASE III DUAL USE APPLICATIONS: Develop, demonstrate, and validate a full scale flying/driving prototype of the personal air vehicle. The prototype personal air vehicle should be able to transport 2 to 4 personnel either by driving on the ground or by flying. This personal air vehicle should also have a vertical take-off capability that is not restricted to prepared surfaces for the most military utility. The prototype personal air vehicle is to be suitable for many military scouting and personnel transport missions (urban scouting, casualty evacuation, inserting SOF teams) or commercial counterparts and to be robust enough to support initial military user evaluation of its potential utility.

[DoDSBIR via Wired]

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Ash78, voting early and often

Surely Al Gore can handle this. He already took care of one major invention for DARPA. But his anti-global-warming stance might be at odds with the carbon footprint of this vehicle.