Though it is in the beginning stages of development, the Distributed Flight Array is already looking very interesting. Each unit can scuttle across the ground using the down force from its prop, but when 4 or more join forces, they can take off and fly. The documentation shows that they should be smart enough to fly in random configurations, though in the video we only see the standard 4 prop layout. This is being worked on by the same people who produced the balancing cube.
DARPA has awarded an extension to AeroVironment for their work on the Nano Air Vehicle project. The prototype seen above, called Mercury, is an ornithopter which means it flaps it’s wings. It is the first to show controlled hovering. Look closely, there’s no rudder or tail. Mercury uses the two wings for both lift and control. Ornithopters themselves aren’t new, we’ve even covered them before. Usually they use the flapping wings for propulson and a tail to steer as they travel like an airplane. We would really love to see some detail shots of Mercury.
[Stillboy] alerted us to a flying car that runs on biofuel. Flying cars have been the mainstays of science fiction and technological wish lists for years, but they elude production, as expenses, fuel, and gravity get in the way. [Gilo Cardozo], a paramotor manufacturer, managed to overcome those hurdles by thinking simply. He attached a paramotor to his car, which is powered by a Yamaha superbike engine and a gearbox from a snowmobile. His modified Rage Motorsport buggy is street legal in the United Kingdom, and in the air, can get up to 80 miles per hour. It will be fully tested in January, when he and his chief pilot and expedition organizer [Neil Laughton] drive and fly the car to Timbuktu.
Other flying cars are also in the works. DARPA recently announced their Personal Air Vehicle Technology project that will hopefully lead to a military-suitable flying car that can get up to 60 miles per hour on the ground and 150 miles per hour in the air. Moller International claims that a flying Ferrari is in the works, and could be available for purchase within two years. Are jet packs next?
Off all the competitions for poorly performing human powered flying machines, the Red Bull Flugtag is one of our favorites. Honestly, it’s the only one we can think of, but that doesn’t mean we’re any less enthusiastic about giving flight to half baked ideas. Today was the Portland round of the international event. Teams have to submit an application for their craft in advance. The vehicle can have a maximum wingspan of 30 feet and a weight with pilot of 450 pounds or less. Power is from muscle or simply gravity. The vehicle also has to be easily retreivable so they can get it out of the water. Judging isn’t just for distance, but for creativity, too.
Flickr users [pdx-kate] and [Jabin] have uploaded images and video from the day: The winner was Team Yakima’s big wheel that flew 62 feet. Second place went to Greased Lightning at 55 feet. Third was the FreeBallin sneaker which you can see in flight here. The People’s Choice award went to the Space Balls Winnebago, which we unfortunately can’t find a very good picture of. You can read more about each individual entry on the results page.
Embedded below is the video of the current US record holder: a banjo that went 155 feet in Nashville. The next US event will be September 6th in Chicago.
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