AVX flying-car concept – the Vertical Takeoff and Landing SUV


July 19, 2010

The AVX TX fly-drive vehicle boasts VTOL capabilities

The AVX TX fly-drive vehicle boasts VTOL capabilities

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One of the first to respond to the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency's (DARPA's) call seeking designs for a tactical flying car under its Transformer (TX) program is the AVX Aircraft Company. Its AVX Aircraft can be manually driven on the ground like an SUV and also boasts Vertical Takeoff and Landing (VTOL) capabilities.

The stated objective of the TX program is to “demonstrate a four person flyable/roadable vehicle that will provide the warfighter with terrain-independent mobility. This presents unprecedented capability to avoid traditional and asymmetrical threats while avoiding road obstructions.” The TX will be designed to enhance future operations with use in strike and raid, intervention, interdiction, insurgency/counterinsurgency, reconnaissance, medical evacuation and logistical supply.

The Broad Agency Announcement (BAA) from DARPA called for a design that:

  • could be manually driven on the ground like an SUV
  • rapidly configures between ground and flight configuration
  • has Vertical Takeoff and Landing (VTOL) capability
  • has a cruise speed equivalent to a light aircraft
  • has automated takeoff/landing flight control.
  • AVX met these performance requirements with its AVX TX design that has:

    • 1,040 lb payload
  • 250 nautical mile range on one tank of fuel
  • 10,000 ft mean sea level altitude at max gross weight
  • 80mph on road speed, 30mph rough terrain speed
  • 140mph flying speed
  • converts from road to flight mode in 60 seconds
  • AVX says its TX will also have intuitive controls that will provide non-pilot operator control and navigation systems that are intuitive enough to facilitate the transition from road to flight operations. The vehicle’s dual ducted fans will provide propulsion both on the ground and in the air.

    Additionally the AVX (TX) can be quickly converted to medivac with a vehicle operator, medical attendant and littered patient. It can also be converted to a resupply vehicle and can move 12,50 lbs as an unmanned vehicle using a sling or 1,000 lbs as a manned vehicle with the same 250 nm range.

    Source: AVX

    About the Author
    Darren Quick Darren's love of technology started in primary school with a Nintendo Game & Watch Donkey Kong (still functioning) and a Commodore VIC 20 computer (not still functioning). In high school he upgraded to a 286 PC, and he's been following Moore's law ever since. This love of technology continued through a number of university courses and crappy jobs until 2008, when his interests found a home at Gizmag. All articles by Darren Quick

    This is totally non-sense : A Coax hellico is something much fragile. Not the kind of thing to venture in rough tracks... Especialy is army ops. And to consider that the props will do the gear is also non-productiv at all, especially in rought tracks. What a waste of power!

    Ariel Dahan


    It\'s all cool and all, but \'ducted fan propulsion on the ground\'?

    Dumb. Slow moving from a dead stop, poor acceleration (compared to wheel drive).

    In almost any environment that has a bit of dust, that thing is going to be a highly visible target for days!

    Still want one.


    The ducted fans provide power in the air AND on the ground!!! The plumes of dust and crap blowing about behind it are going to be a bit of a tactical give-away, aren\'t they? Can\'t help feeling that selectable hydrostatic drive to the wheels might be a better option for ground operations, specially in off-road conditions where driven wheels are essential to maintain controllable progress. Hmmm!

    Mike Hallett

    Looks very fragile at ground level, prone to grenade, explosive, or bullet damage in the engines. Why are the tires not more protected? Also, this looks like an RPG-magnet.

    I think the troops are at risk in this.

    Ike Rai

    It may not be the best right now, but it is the best concept by far!


    That seems a very expensive and non=protected way to transport 4 soldiers.


    As others have commented the lack of direct drive will likely doom this concept to an R&D one off. The design team may correct this although it will increase the weight. The fragility issue of a flight weight vehicle is a more difficult issue so the vehicle will have a limited life. Part of the concept is to fly over and avoid the need for armor rather than being heavy enough to withstand armed assaults. With more and more power available more lightweight armor could be added but testing will show if the concept is viable at all.


    AVX,,,,another pie in the sky (joke! )The guys who designed this will never be in one when the RPG start incoming !


    Seems like yet another stylists \"sky hook\".

    I\'d imagine the maintenance burden would be similar to normal helicopters at around 3 hours per hour of operation, probably more given the ground equipment and the hammering it would get cross country.

    The ducted fan propulsion on the ground would be a total disaster as well, with the ducted fans needing to provide MORE than 50% of the vehicles mass in thrust to climb a 50% grade and more like 75% of the vehicles mass in static thrust to be able to match a traditional vehicles off road capability.

    Additionally, I\'d imagine that over almost any terrain the debris kicked up by using a powerful ducted fan as a primary propulsion system would be seriously dangerous for anyone nearby. I don\'t imagine it would look too good for the US forces if their vehicles started killing people with rocks kicked up by the ducted fans.


    A Concept only close to what should be achieved. Instead of a complicated helicopter a far simpler gyrocopter is a better solution: advantage: extremely simple rotor mechanics, also counter clockwise rotors, electric prerotator in between the rotors, pusher engines for flight like here, fully automated flight controls, electric wheel hub motors in the rear/all wheels, later with fuel cell engine instead of jet/combustion engine jump take off capability (


    Interesting concept for civilian application, as flight hardware is above the roadrash level (ducted fan could be mounted higher) a problem which will affect the Terrafuga flying car with its wings begging to be bumped in the carpark. VTOL attractive as may be, in civvie life is somewhat farfeched as the power required for this requires powerplants and fuel combustion rates outside of most civilian budgets. Autogyro is the way to go.

    Bas Klein Bog

    Well DARPA puts out a call seeking designs for a tactical flying car? If this is what they can actually publish, let\'s hope the concepts that actually make sense, are being kept under wraps! :)

    Leonard Zech

    Unfortunately, the Gizmag report on this concept is incorrect. The vehicle has direct drive on the ground with electric wheel motors.


    The driving part of this vehicle would have to be secondary to the flying part. Meaning it would have to be optimized (and used) mainly for flying, then only drive short distances at moderate speed. Or possibly for silently driving into very risky places where it is very likely an/or planned that they will need to fly out quickly, such as covert strike or rescue ops. Current technology limitations combined with frailty of the flying hardware would make it difficult to have a full on up-armored HMMV that flies. It would be similar to how this concept looks: a heli that can drive a little ways on dirt roads.

    Mark in MI

    One would think they would have looked up \"Hafner Flying Jeep\" or \"Rotabuggy,\" WW2 project for a towable rotary-wing Jeep \"glider.\" Replace the autogyro system with a real helicopter powered rotor and tail assembly, lose 2/3 the weight of a jeep (by making the road-going portion of lightweight materials). you\'d still have a heavy, unwieldly helicopter with limited range and carrying capacity, and an awkward ground vehicle.

    Here are the conclusions I reached regarding this scenario about 7 years ago: Separate the automobile and aircraft functions. Resurrect the Goodyear \"Inflato-Plane,\" so the aircraft is carried in the trunk of the SUV/ambulance, or use a conventional helicopter to carry passengers and trail bikes or a \"quad ambulance.\"

    If you want stealth, use electric motorcycles. I\'m assuming all military hardware is \"disposable,\" so most of the metal bits of the trail bikes could be made of combustible magnesium so they could be burned up and destroyed at the end of the mission, leaving behind nothing the enemy can use.

    William Lanteigne

    go ahead great work but it should come India right

    Facebook User

    The flying car with the coaxial rotors is a stroke of genius, eliminating the need for a tailrotor and making room for twin fans to propel it forward and allow it to turn. Hats off to the engineer who came up with this.

    Mark Farmer
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