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Terrafugia to contribute DARPA flying car program


November 30, 2010

The Transformer (TX) program calls for a vertical-takeoff and landing (VTOL) vehicle that ...

The Transformer (TX) program calls for a vertical-takeoff and landing (VTOL) vehicle that can travel 280 miles by land or air and carry up to 1,000 pounds (Image: AAI Corporation)

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The company behind the first FAA approved "roadable aircraft" – the Terrafugia Transition – has been selected to contribute to DARPA's Transformer (TX) Project, a program that aims to bring flying car technology to the battlefield. Terrafugia will subcontract to one of two winning teams under phase one of the program which focuses on creating a conceptual design for a four person cross between a Humvee and a helicopter for use in insurgency, reconnaissance, medical evacuation and logistical supply.

DARPA’s US$65M Transformer (TX) program calls for a vertical-takeoff and landing (VTOL) vehicle that can travel 280 miles by land or air, carry up to 1,000 pounds and offer control to non-pilots through the use of semi-automated flight-control systems.

The first phase of the program will run over the next 12 months with the aim of creating a design for both a prototype and a production vehicle. A working prototype is expected to materialize as early as 2015.

DARPA has selected AAI Corporation and Lockheed Martin as the prime system integrators, while Carnegie Mellon University and Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne will look at critical enabling technology.

Terrafugia's role is as a sub-contractor to AAI (an operating unit of Textron Systems). The company's design incorporates Slowed Rotor/Compound (SR/C™) technology originally developed by Carter Aviation Technologies which uses a rotor for vertical takeoff and landing and a small wing for high speed cruising.

Terrafugia will contribute expertise towards the design of the Transformer - a cross betwe...

Terrafugia will contribute expertise in "drive and flight integration, deployable flight surfaces, and automotive crash safety for an aircraft."

"This DARPA program effectively leverages Terrafugia's core competencies and enables us to grow from a pure GA company to an emerging aerospace company with both general aviation and defense development programs," said Chief Executive Officer Carl Dietrich. "Our strong team of Terrafugia engineers with recent experience designing and building a dual purpose vehicle will bring a unique perspective to the TX program that is highly valued by DARPA and the other contractors on our TX team."

Via Terrafugia / DARPA.

About the Author
Noel McKeegan After a misspent youth at law school, Noel began to dabble in tech research, writing and things with wheels that go fast. This bus dropped him at the door of a freshly sprouted in 2002. He has been Gizmag's Editor-in-Chief since 2007.   All articles by Noel McKeegan

Stone AWESOME! Would that they had had this back in my day.

Chris Blake
2nd December, 2010 @ 07:03 am PST

Personally I think this is a waste of money and time.

It will be a poor helicopter and an even crappier vehicle.

It will not be able to carry heavy weaponry or heavy armor like a regular vehicle.

It will be a heavy short range helicopter, and where are they going to stash all the anti-missile equipment? They will probably have to leave it out.

In the end it will be unsafe to fly and unsafe to drive in hostile territory. It will compromise both roles to the point of being useless.

The problem with the traditional helicopter is one of range and armor protection.

With Sikorsky's X2 coming online both these issues could be mitigated.

I think DARPA is behind the curve on this one.....

4th December, 2010 @ 06:52 pm PST

Dennis, I agree with you. DARPA is trying hard to come up with a Flying Car, yet they want to spend $65M for a still mere airplane that just can travel like a car.

Why can't they listen to me, I've been offering them just for the sake of my deceased US Veteran father that for just 1 or a couple of $M I can build them a real VTOL Flying Car- can even make it electric.

June Yasol
20th June, 2012 @ 10:51 am PDT
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