DARPA Takes a Crack at the Flying CarS

The flying car, a goal of starry-eyed engineers since at least the beginning of the last century, is getting the DARPA treatment. Called Transformer TX, this flying Humvee-like prototype could be airborne by 2015.

The Transformer TX was officially detailed in a Pentagon budget report last year, pretty much in name only, and only recently have actual details concerning the project come to light. Like this tidbit, gleaned from the report by the Register:

The Government's envisioned concept consists of a robust ground vehicle that is capable of configuring into a VTOL [Vertical Take Off and Landing] air vehicle with a maximum payload capability of approximately 1,000 lbs.

The vehicle would be able to carry four troopers and all their gear, and would be no larger than 30' by 8.5' by 9'. For visualization's sake, that's the length of two Hummers end-to-end. DARPA requires that the vehicle be able to lift off from a stand still, like a helicopter, and reach an altitude of 10,000 feet. Oh, and if it's autonomous, like a Predator, that's just fine with DARPA, as they want any ol' Marine to be able to pilot the thing (or sit back and let it take them into the fray), without a huge amount of training. [Register via Slashdot]