Skycars and the future of cars

I came across a link to Moller Skycars through one of my feeds. This got me looking a bit more into where we have reached with the concept of flying cars. The Moller Skycar (on wikipedia) has apparently been around for quite some time, and has also been tested out (but tethered runs for safety). The M400 model which is being planned for general usage is basically a 4-seater VTOL (Vertical Take-off and Landing) vehicle capable of speeds of upto 375 mph, and runs on ethanol. It’s expected to be priced around $1 million.

There are also a few videos on the Moller site on the flying cars, plus one on youtube of the cars test run (or flight). There’s also quite a bit of information on the wikipedia page on flying cars (with one of the earliest models dating back to 1937). Going by the information I’ve seen, the flying car can be expected to be launched by the end of this decade.

However, one of the big questions remaining is the one regarding the energy source for these vehicles – some form of petroleum/ethanol, which is not exactly environment friendly. This is also one of the main sections in the future of cars page on wikipedia, with alternatives ranging from hybrids to hydrogen powered vehicles.

Omni-directional driving

I came across an interesting puzzle on the Humanized site through one of my feeds. The puzzle was to design a car that is not forward/reverse modal (basically do away with the gear shift, which creates multiple modes for the accelerator). There were quite a few interesting and innovative solutions, with suggestions ranging from using joysticks to providing separate buttons/pedals for the reverse functionality.

While going through this puzzle and the answers, I came across the Airtrax site, which designs omni-directional vehicles, i.e., vehicles which can move in any direction. They have a small video on the front page demonstrating the vehicle capabilities, and also a page with some information on the omni-directional drive system.