World's First Fuel-Electric Hybrid Flying Car May Be on the Horizon
CREDIT: Michael Moshier
Where hybrid cars are going, they don't need roads. That's the dream of a Silicon Valley startup aiming to build the world's first fuel-electric hybrid flying car.
The founders want to use ducted-fan-powered hover technology first demonstrated in their one-person aircraft called SoloTrek. That prototype made a number of successful flight tests from 2001 to 2005, but eventually lost funding. Whether or not a more ambitious project beyond a jetpack-sized contraption can catch the attention of investors remains up in the air.
"It is no longer a question of if it can be done," said Robert Bulaga, an aerospace engineer and test pilot. "We have the proven technology, key development partners, and operational experience to be successful with this project."
SoloTrek also received about $5 million in funding from the Pentagon's DARPA , which has since put out an open call for flying car designs to be used by the U.S. military. If the timing looks right, perhaps the new company might once again look to DARPA as a benefactor.
The new company's press release points to their proposed hybrid air car as a possible solution for emergency vehicles that need to dodge traffic gridlock, as well as search and rescue, police patrols and medivac situations. But engineering details about the proposed hybrid fuel-electric vehicle remain sketchy.
"Ever since the Jetsons, we've been promised that an air car is just around the corner," said Michael Moshier, aircraft designer and engineer. "But the technologies and knowledge necessary to build such a machine have not been available until now. And it will be developed here in the USA."
At the very least, the proposed hybrid air car should not end up stalling because of intellectual property issues. Such legal complications brought down the crowd-sourced "AT-AT for America " project that aimed to build a giant robotic walker from the original "Star Wars" films.