DARPA Project Transformer (TX)
No, we're not Decepticon-ning you, the U.S. government is actually working on something called Project Transformer, or TX, for short. Specifically, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is investigating how feasible it would be to build vehicles that could perform scouting or other duties on land, then transform to evacuate the area when done -- or when action on the ground got too hot.
As you may recall, DARPA's predecessor organization a few decades ago fronted the cash to develop the technology that eventually became today's Internet. Could research in the flying cars arena signal a similar revolution-in-the-works for transportation?
DARPA has no definitive favorite design yet, and will likely take a while to sift through all the proposals it receives. Officials envision something that might have folding wings and directed, ducted fan engines to allow vertical takeoffs and landings.
If you're interested in making a proposal, keep in mind DARPA is looking to demonstrate "A tactical four-person vehicle that can drive or fly on command." Other requirements:
- It would be manually driven on the ground like an SUV
- It rapidly reconfigures between ground and flight mode
- It can perform Vertical Takeoff and Landings (VTOL)
- It has a cruise speed equal to a light aircraft
- No tricky piloting skills needed -- automatic takeoff and landing flight control
What if you could experience flying in the same way it feels to ride a motorcycle or personal watercraft -- fast, fun and with the wind in your face? Go to the next page to find out how one company is aiming to make it happen.