Moller Completes Design for Flying Hybrid Vehicle

By dancurranjr On October 9th, 2008

Moller International Inc. said Tuesday it has completed the design for a hybrid-electric vehicle capable of lifting off vertically and flying for about 15 minutes.

In theory, the sports car would be used primarily on the road. If a driver got stuck in traffic, the car could then lift off and fly at up to 150 miles per hour for a short distance, then land and travel up to 40 miles or more.

Davis-based Moller was under contract with a wealthy foreign businessman to design the flying car. The man was unable to commute between his country home and Moscow because of overcrowded streets, according to the company.

Moller conducted a preliminary analysis and found that a hybrid propulsion system powered by engines and electric motors, together with a proprietary eight-fan aircraft design, could be blended to create the “autovolantor.” Scale model wind tunnel testing and further analysis predicted “good all around performance” for the car-aircraft.

“We would love to build a prototype but we’re not going to be able to on our own nickel,” general manager Bruce Calkins said.

Moller estimated the cost of developing a prototype at more than $5 million. The businessman did not want to fund a prototype, Calkins said.

Last November, Moller had “substantial doubt” of continuing its operations and developing flying vehicles, as the company’s deficit increased to $40.6 million, according to documents filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The deficit reached $41.2 million in December, according to SEC documents.

Moller is a developer, manufacturer and marketer of proposed vertical take-off and landing vehicles for personal and military use. The 25-year-old company developed the Skycar, which has demonstrated the ability to take off and land vertically. Unlike the autovolantor, Calkins said the Skycar is more airplane than car, and would travel short distances at low speeds, or up to about 35 miles per hour, to reach final destinations.

Source: Sacramento Business Journal

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