Potential of the Moller Skycar

Moller International is developing an aerodyne (or “volantor,” as its inventor Paul Moller terms it) they call the Skycar. A personal VTOL “flying car.” Costs about a million now, but the company claims it can eventually get the price down to that of a “quality car,” and likewise with the fuel consumption.

Even if they manage that – if, someday, the Skycar costs no more and burns no more fuel per mile than an SUV – will the Skycar ever replace ground vehicles to any significant extent? Some obvious problems suggest themselves. Picture a typical mile of freeway at rush hour – and then imagine all those cars transformed into Skycars. You think we’ve got air-traffic-control problems now . . .

I don’t know if it would be safe to let the average motorist get behind the wheel of a Skycar – drunk or sober. Flying’s a lot more complicated that driving. And even a minor fenderbender of a midair collision might kill all occupants of both vehicles, plus whoever’s on the ground where they happen to fall.

Can you see any way to get around these obstacles and speed the way to a Jetsons future?

This is been discussed quie a lot around here, and he general consensus is that Moller is on some serious crack, and the Skycar will never, ever happen. Even from the wiki link:

In the words of the SEC complaint, “As of late 2002, MI’s approximately 40 years’ of development has resulted in a prototype Skycar capable of hovering about fifteen feet above the ground.”

My prediction would be a steady hail of flesh and twisted metal from the skies.

I don’t think it has much potential…too expensive. That said, I saw another version (it was actually a dual blade helicopter) that should be out sometime next year…cost $50k (much more affordable). It has extremely simplified controls (just a steering wheel and throtle), is extremely easy to learn to fly and use, and its pretty safe (if you lose engine power it will autorotate back down on its own…you don’t even need to touch the controls…unless of course you are coming down on a tree or something :)).

All that said, I just don’t think we’ll ever have skycars like a lot of that old futuristic SCIFI used to go on about. My thoughts are that we will eventually go to an automated ground system, sort of like what you see in I Robot or SCIFI like that.


I would imagine sooner or later all vehicle traffic is going to be computer controlled. These skycars would have certainly to be. There’s no way I’d want people zipping around in every direction at 300mph crashing into each other. So I would suppose that any skycar that actually gets certified as “road” safe will have to have some pretty rigid safety standards. More than anything else, I have a feeling this is what will keep skycars from ever taking off. The amount of infrastructure necessary to support these vehicles is pretty insane. You basically need airborne “roads” made out of computerized instructions and they have to cover everywhere the skycar can go. Do you build towers? Send up satellites? Whatever the case may be it’s going to be expensive. I suppose the cars could have a peer-to-peer network to keep from bumping into each other but it would have to be a pretty powerful wireless network that can transmit over miles. So right now I don’t think we have what we need to get these things in the air and keep them there. Plus you need to figure out how to license and train people to operate these vehicles.

Also, would the vehicle have some kind of built in tattle-tale system? As in, if I had one of these skycars and decided I wanted to start a lucrative marijuana smuggling operation by flying back and forth over the border, what is to stop me? Police and security services would hate skycars for this capability amongst others. That nice big fence around the Whitehouse? Not an obstacle to a skycar! That fence at the Mexican border that’s going to cost a bazillion dollars? It’s going to have to be six miles high! That open prison courtyard? It’s a landing zone for an escape vehicle!

I think the car is very very cool and I’d pay big money to have one. But I don’t think the world is quite ready yet.

Would that be the Solotrek?

I see both of these as having potential use in search & rescue operations. Even if they’re not affordable or economical, the research being done in an attempt to make them so is invaluable.

It may be useful to know that this thing is basically vaporware. I remember seeing this website about 10 years ago, and it made all the same claims then that it makes now - they had a working prototype that could hover, they were on the verge of getting approval for widespread production, you would be able to buy one soon for about a million bucks, everything. I seem to recall that the guy behind it all was investigated for defrauding his investors, but that’s a vague memory, and I can’t back it up.

No, definitely not. I saw something like that on Mythbusters, and they basically came to the conclusion that a personal flying device like that is, if not impossible, we are not yet at the point where one is practical (myth BUSTED! :stuck_out_tongue: ).

No, this was a vehicle, with big pontoons at the base (for landing in water I suppose, or for soft landing)…it resembled an ultralight helicopter. It was on one of those Beyond 2000 type shows (might have BEEN Beyond 2000 in fact), and there was a panel of people discussing it and its potential (sort of like this thread). What struck me was the fact that such a vehicle IS affordable to many Americans…and its ease of use and safety features were appealing to more of a mass market (I’m a pilot myself, and am checked out on flying a helicopter…and its not the easiest thing in the world for most novices). Hell, I may buy one at that price…assuming the thing ever, er, gets off the ground so to speak.

But…I don’t see this as anything more than upping the bar a bit on the current privately own air craft scene. I dont think its going to replace cars or ground transport as the common means of commuting and such.


That’s what I want for Christmas! :slight_smile:

No, really. When I was little (in the '60s), I saw something in a toy catalog – a backpack with a helicopter blade sticking up from it. Naturally, I assumed if you had that you could actually fly! Never got it, but I’m sure I would’ve been disappointed. (Remember Calvin and the motorized propellor-beanie?)

Great Horny Toads! Imagine flying a bit too low and clipping a power line.

“Hey! where’s my lower torso?”
Looks like fun, I’ll admit.

Perhaps it was the Airscooter?

Umm, exactly how many Americans die every year on these nice, safe roads of ours? By extendig the roads into three dimensions, we might just prevent most accidents? A 25-lane skyway is gonna be a lot less crowded than any conceivable four-lane road.

And was someone complaining that developing software to guide skycars in the air would be EXPENSIVE? Oh, really? Compare to road construction, repair and maintenance? :dubious:

Some people around here are smoking crack, but it ain’t just Moller.

At first . . .

If I could use one of these for my business I would be so totally stoked.

The excuses I keep seeing are insurance and FAA restrictions. From what I’ve seen of the video im sure the thing can fly, just unhook it from the tether and go, its hovering…hard parts over. I could see being a little leery of test flying their one and only but maybe some investors need to throw some weight around to get more copies so flight testing can be done without worrying about loss of the prototype.

What business are you in?

Onsite computer repair

obligatory vanity linky

Cooler still if you used a car – the kind the Deliverator, Hiro Protagonist, used in [url=]Snow Crash! :cool:

Wouldn’t the thing have to get further off the ground than 15 feet to constitute a ‘hail’?

Probably lots of flesh and twisted metal crashing into the front doors of the local 7-11…


I wouldn’t underestimate insurance & FAA regulation. My brother’s a pilot and I asked him one time why there weren’t any new small aircraft and everyone seemed to be spending gobs of money maintaining, buying and reselling 30-year-old Cessnas. He said “insurance & FAA regulations.”

Even if Moller managed to build something flyable for and sellable for $50K, by the time insurance & the FAA got done with it, it’d probably be right back up at $1,000,000. Plus, Moller seems to think someone with not much more than a driver’s license could fly one of these things, but I’m betting you’d need to not only be a pilot, but also qualified as some sort of experimental aircraft pilot. No way the FAA is letting your common schmoe fly one of these things around.

Just MHO, of course.

I used to be pretty excited about these things, but like Smeghead, after ten years or so of being excited, I’m thinking it’s more Segway, than revolutionary next big thing.

Yep, that looks like what I remember. If they actually come out with one for $50k I will probably have to get one. :stuck_out_tongue: