On an aviation innovation note, General Aviation News has recently noted that the USA’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has launched a US$65 million program to develop a four-person flyable and roadable Humvee like vehicle. Moreover, Terrafugia, Inc., the developer of the Transition Roadable Aircraft or so-called “flying car,” will be largest subcontractor on the project.
The vehicle will be known as the Transformer, or TX, and will function like a Humvee on the ground but have helicopter-like mobility. Hence, the TX will have the ability to avoid road threats and difficult terrain while on medical evacuation, remote supply and Special Force insertion missions. The TX will also be able to travel 280 miles either by air or by land and have automatic fight controls to enable operation by non-pilots.
Phase I of the five year program will focus on a conceptual design for both a prototype and a production vehicle while Phases II and III will focus on designing and manufacturing a prototype that could be ready as early as first quarter of 2015. Moreover, Terrafugia will take much of the expertise they learned from designing their flying car and use it on the TX project – which will also help them to transition from a general aviation company to an emerging aerospace company.
Meanwhile, it was also noted that Terrafugia’s “flying car” is moving forward on schedule with testing and production occurring in the second half of 2011.