It's dark and late. You're speeding through the streets of a downtown metropolis. You're being chased and the pursuers are quickly gaining ground. With a knowing smile, you simply press the 'launch' button of your jet car and take off into the night sky. The grounded villains are left staring into the air at your jet steam... It may sound like a typical superhero scenario but the reality (minus the drama!) could be a lot closer than you think.
Iflscience recently reported on how two inventors from California are currently developing a jet car that they hope will be able to fly as high and as fast as a commercial airliner. Designer Greg Brown and engineer Dave Fawcett aim to have a functional prototype of the vehicle, dubbed the GF7, within the next few years.
The GF7 will seat four and is designed to be equally suited on the ground and the sky. Iflscience.com elaborates: 'On land, it will use an electric motor to hit speeds of 160 km/h. When it's ready to take to the sky, the wings will fold down and the 3,500-lb thrust engine will propel it through the air at 885 km/h, reaching heights of up to 12 000 m with its 7 m wingspan.'
Meanwhile, Gizmag notes that the GF7 design has a basic folding wing, and is propelled on the ground by an all-electric 50 kWh battery pack that is recharged by the jet engine during flight. The vehicle will get around 129-193 km out of each charging session.
Designer Greg Brown chatted with Gizmag about why they are pursuing the car-jet combination. 'The more we got into the systems the more we realized how complimentary they were. You can save jet fuel by using the electric motor to drive to the runway and start the turbine engine when you need it. The high torque electric motors assist the jet to accelerate for take-off reducing take-off roll - it will be like an afterburner take-off...To top it off, the turbine engine produces plenty of extra electrical capacity to charge the batteries.'
Living the batman dream will not come cheap. Gizmag tells us that current estimates for the GF7 are over EUR 2.2 million, a far sight more than other flying cars in development, such as the Terrafugia, that are priced at about EUR 205 000. There may also be logistical complications with the process of getting the GF7 into production and on stream. For example, it isn't entirely clear where the laws would sit with requiring a pilot's license.
As Gizmag notes, 1960s sci-fi shows promised us jet cars in the 21st Century but so far we have been left wanting. Now the GF7 , along with other flying cars such the Terrafugia Transistion, the Aeromobile, the PAL-V gyroplane three-wheeler, and the flying box-truck AT Transformer, may be about to deliver on the fantasies of 60s scriptwriters!
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