In 2001, PAL-V Europe NV, Raamsdonksveer, The Netherlands, envisioned a roadable aircraft. The company evaluated various technologies and designed numerous concepts in cooperation with well-known research institutes and universities, such as the Dutch National Aerospace Laboratory and Delft University. In 2005, a breakthrough in Dynamic Vehicle Control (DVC) tilting technology gave PAL-V the idea of designing a flying car instead of the roadable aircraft. The DVC is a mechanical-hydraulic system which automatically adjusts the vehicle’s tilt angle to its speed and acceleration for planelike “tilting-whilecornering” performance.
The flying car allows for safe driving without compromises while having a high center of gravity and narrow aerodynamic shape for flying. The design concept for the vehicle was completed in 2008.
With a team of skilled engineers with automotive, aviation, and motorcycle backgrounds, the company started engineering proof-of-concept prototypes. A driving prototype was tested in 2009 and, in 2012, the flying-driving prototype made its first flight.
Currently, the company is engineering a commercial version, the PAL-V ONE, a two-seat hybrid car and gyroplane. On the ground, the threewheeled vehicle offers the comforts of a car with the handling of a motorcycle, thanks to its cutting-edge “tilting” system. The gasoline-fueled craft will offer a range of approximately 750miles; biodiesel and bioethanol versions will also be available.
When flying, the PAL-V will stay below 4,000 ft (the airspace for uncontrolled Visual Flight Rules (VFR) traffic) and have a range of 220 to 315 miles, depending on type, payload, and wind conditions. It will be powered by a flight-certified aircraft engine that runs on gasoline. Whether flying or driving, the craft can reach speeds around 112 mph.
The PAL-V ONE easily converts from plane to car in about 10 min. Once the engine stops, the propeller folds itself automatically into the driv-dynamicing position. The rotor mast lowers into the horizontal position at the push of a button. The same motion lowers the tail. The outer blades are folded over the inner blades via hinges. Then the driver pushes the tail into the driving position and secures the rotor blades. Reverse the sequence and you’re ready to fly.
To fly the PAL-V ONE, you’ll need a Sports Pilot License (USA), a Recreational Pilot License (Europe), or a Private Pilot License. Learning to fly usually takes 20 to 40 hr of student-pilot lessons, as well as an exam, which you can prepare for via home study or by taking lessons at a flight school.
Driving the PAL-V ONE requires a private driver’s license, and it takes about 30 min to get used to driving it. Price of the car would be around $300,000, and the company is hoping to have a commercial product into the market in 2014.
Smart glasses for smartphones
A new hands-free display and communication system provides on-the-go data access from smartphones and the Internet. Vuzix smart glasses M100, from Vuzix Corp., Rochester, N. Y., runs applications under the Android operating system — text, video, e-mail, mapping, and audio. The glasses offer a wearable visual connection to the Cloud, and includes a head tracker and GPS for spacial and positional awareness, as well as a camera for video recording and still-image capture.
Modeled after conventional earmounted handsets, the design includes a camera and display arm. The M100 can be worn in front of the left or right eye and use mounting options that include over ear, over head or behind head.
The device’s full-color, 6:9, WQVGA video display gives users visual access to their smartphone display, basic Web content, and other data from the smartphone and on onboard applications. It features a 16° field of view and bright display for indoor and outdoor use.