NASA: Flying Cars Are P-A-V!

Glenn Swanson
by Glenn Swanson

The flying car is… not a lot closer than it was when a puppet named Mike Mercury took Gerry Anderson's Supercar into the wild blue. According to CNET News, NASA is attempting to rectify the non-situation by stumping up some $2m in prize money for developers of “small seat” experimental airplanes. The space agency's Personal Aircraft Vehicle (PAV) Challenge replaces the agency's in-house development process in favor of "chaotic innovation or ideas hatched in people's garages." PAV fans envision a future where small auto-piloted planes ferry people on “midrange” trips between 100 and 500 miles at speeds up to 150mph. Technologies such as virtual pilot assistants and synthetic vision systems (SVS) could remove pilot error (substituting computer error?) and create virtual highways in the skies. "We're looking at making planes cheaper than cars and as easy to drive.” says pilot Michael Coates of Australia. [BTW: Anderson said he invented Supercar as an excuse to reduce his puppets' walking time, which never looked realistic.]

Glenn Swanson
Glenn Swanson

Glenn is a baby-boomer, born in 1954. Along with his wife, he makes his home in Connecticut. Employed in the public sector as an Information Tedchnology Specialist, Glenn has long been a car fan. Past rides have included heavy iron such as a 1967 GTO, to a V8 T-Bird. In between those high-horsepower cars, he's owned a pair of BMW 320i's. Now, with a daily commute of 40 miles, his concession to MPG dictates the ownership of a 2006 Honda Civic coupe which, while fun to drive, is a modest car for a pistonhead. As an avid reader, Glenn enjoys TTAC, along with many other auto-realated sites, and the occasional good book. As an avid electronic junkie, Glenn holds an Advanced Class amateur ("ham") radio license, and is into many things electronic. From a satellite radio and portable GPS unit in the cars, to a modest home theater system and radio-intercom in his home, if it's run by the movement of electrons, he's interested. :-)

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4 of 5 comments
  • Dean Dean on Aug 15, 2007

    I like the innovation aspect, and the possibility that technologies might come out of such development that would be applicable elsewhere. But as romantic as it sounds, I think the entire concept of flying cars is colossally stupid.

  • Ralph SS Ralph SS on Aug 15, 2007

    If we don't have enough power (energy sources) to power our selves in a two dimensional commute, how are we going to do three?

  • Bolhuijo Bolhuijo on Aug 15, 2007

    Flying cars will be awesome! Instead of listening to my idiot neighbor idling his diesel pickup outside for 15 minutes each morning, I can listen to my idiot neighbor hovering his flying car for 15 minutes each morning. That'll be great!

  • Rpn453 Rpn453 on Aug 15, 2007

    Ridiculous. We don't even know how planes are going to fly when oil is no longer plentiful, and they're trying to encourage the introduction of flying cars?