That's what I like...
... the cut and thrust of true scientific debate!
Here at the Reg we're no strangers to a bit of robust reader input. We get flamed by all sorts: dog lovers, vegans, Nigerian helicopter pioneers, members of the Parachute Regiment, Welshmen. Today, however, we have a first. An actual NASA engineer has joined this illustrious lineup to pour vitriol on our output. The trouble …
"soon we'll all be zooming in to work above the traffic jams in our Puffins"
That may be the kind of quote he'd like, but it'd be total bull.
Unless flying cars use autopilot all the time when in the air, with a minimum of human input, they'll remain toys for rich businessmen with personal helipads and wallets that'll stretch to huge costs of getting a pilot's license. Put regular idiots with a driver's license at the controls of these things and be prepared to armour your roofs, walls and heads, 'cos they're going to be coming down in their thousands.
" none have been flying cars – about a quarter have been personal air vehicles."
And the distinction is what exactly. IIRC when pundits first talked about flying cars they weren't talking about road going vehicles that could fly, they were talking about the airborne equivalent of the road going car. Or to put it another way; "Roads? Where we're going we don't need roads." I would have said that another way of describing such a contrivance would be a personal air vehicle.
Bartering semantics like this reminds me of the time that the body representing the motorcycle trade in the UK came up with the term Powered Two Wheeler or PTW to describe the supposedly more civilized end of the market. The idea being that names like motorbike, scooter and moped all had negative connotations whereas PTW didn't. There's no difference between a motorcycle and a PTW as far as the man in the street is concerned. Likewise there is no difference between a Personal Air Vehicle and a flying car.
No that's not my car, it's my personal transport pod.
Anyhow, flying cars or indeed personal air vehicles will not take off any time soon. If cars had not been invented until the 21st century I doubt they'd have been allowed either, just look at the health and safety implications. The air above every town and city full of personal air vehicles. Can you imagine the rush hour? The average motor vehicle accident results in some bent panels and frayed tempers. The same thing at 200 metres? Deaths.
And look at the regulations covering remote controlled aircraft these days. Murkyside police need all sorts of permits and insurance just to fly their remote controlled surveilance chopper. And even then they can't get it very near people or buildings. Imagine the hoops you'd have to jump through to get a licence to fly your PAV and the cost of the insurance. Forget it.
Hey Doc, way to make yourself look like a seething lunatic.
How many of your "advanced concepts" are now in everyday use? How many of those PAV concepts are actually in use today, because I don't have a PAV, do you?
The majority of your youtube videos are computer generated. There is one video showing a weak fan in a lab environment with no mention of power source weight.
If you want respect, you've got to act respectable. Now excuse me while I go work on some personal transport solutions which actually adress current real-world challenges and may actually see the light of day.
To be fair to the guy the highest quality most rabid flames seem to come from those who have little to do but sit behind a keyboard all day. Whilst we might doubt the effectiveness and practicality of what our here is doing, its clear that it takes up more of his time than internet flaming does.
The FoTW coverage is actually more newsworthy (marginally, but still) than the original article.
This I determined without so much as reading the original and only skimming the flame. Still, I'm sure I'm right, for I read el reg. What are you handing me that coat for? It doesn't even look remotely like mine.
it's not a new BOFH episode, but it's pretty good fodder for a Friday. Too bad nobody took a leisure cruise down a flight of steps, or learned first-hand about the electical conductivity of the human body. That woulda made it perfect.
WTF is up with BOFH anyhow? Simon starts a new era then leaves it for three weeks?
Why can't The Reg use their expense accout to buy a $ 200 flight with one of those sophisticated, brand new, leading-edge Cessna Internal Combustion-Engine Powered Wonders ?
They can fly hundreds of kilometers unrefuelled and land and takeoff on less than 300meters of runway. Maybe NASA will actually purchase one of those Wondercrafts ?? Then the Prof could be amazed the whole day. He would not even have to increase the energy density of Carbonhydrates by the factor of three ! Imagine that !!!!!!
I think i agree with the learned Doc's views in part, anyways, definately more than the commentards here, who seem only intent on whether ist's a Manchester, Blackburn, or Brummie screwdriver, none of whom have actually commented on the most interesting aspect.
The differences between the right handed and the left handed version of the *screwdriver*
It's all very well, arguing and poking fun at geeks, but - Gods dammit - I want my jet pack!
If they spent less time reading articles and more time sorting themselves out then I could be zooming about and narrowly missing crashing into trees and buildings.
I have long dreamed of the day of flying about with a rocket lashed to my back. (ever since I saw the old black and white Rocket Man films at the pictures - fairly sure I didn't just dream it)
Dear Mr Elvis Pargeter
That told you. It's about time too.
Please check your facts before attacking any more scientists who are actually doing science.
You may have free rein (and my blessing) when savaging the useless bunch who do nothing but argue how their betters did it wrong and how Pluto isn't a proper planet and Lake Huron is just a bulge.
Yours etc (Mrs)
Oh for crying out loud, Doc, you've just got to get it together. You can't rant back at English people like that, it just show us (Americans) as the unsophisticated louts they already think we are. You've got to keep your composure while you deliver some biting yet witty comeback. See the Oxford SCR scene in the movie Shadowlands for how this is done.
While I like the idea of a "flying car", can you imagine many of the lusers & hoons you find on the road today, up in the air?
As for using batteries as the power source for an aircraft.... I hope that thing comes with a ballistic parachute as standard equipment.
Oh yes, being a doc and a prof engineer doesn't mean anything. Been there, done that.
Well done El Reg.
Ouch; reading all this I thought to check and discovered I had mislaid my left-handed Philips* bit.
Never mind, I just found it.
(Think I'm kidding? This puppy will take out rounded off crocodile teeth.**)
I have found however that I no longer seem to have the dexterity to drive finishing nails with a three pound sledge; I am wimping out and sticking with the 2 pound version.
Back on topic (or something remotely resembling same) I keep trying to start to save to buy a Martin Jetpack. *** then keep spending it all on booze and computer components. Though the Genh4 (mentioned in the article) is cool too.
* Something like a Reed and Prince with a slightly blunter edge (Do you still use those?)
** If you don't have the right tool for the job, make one. I will probably never use this bit again.
(as they do not pay me for humor around here.)
"Isn't NASA working on getting us to Mars? Is the plan to use this personal flyer ON Mars?"
While related* these ideas are not directly tied together.
* The plans are to seem like they are doing something - while actually accomplishing nothing. Thus the "plan" for Mars and for the "flying shoe" are the same BUT different. Both are just to stay employed till retirement.
Aircraft have this attribute thanks to the FAA (and local equivalents)....everything connected to a plane is certified, logged, recertified, relogged and generally mired in paperwork. Its understandable since the consequences of a mishap with a plane can be quite servere but it has implications for a flying car. Now there are exceptions for home-mades, one-offs and other experimental planes (but they come with restrictions on where and how you can fly them -- "By all means crash, just don't hit anything on the way down" -- but for the majority of planes the paperwork adds a significant burden to the purchase and ownership costs of a plane. (As in "You think a MoT's a hassle, wait till you have to do the same on a plane...."). So let him play, but until he fixes the certification -- and navigation -- hassles this is just a harmless pipe-dream.
The alcoholic type of screwdriver.
Seriously though... HAMMERING press coverage that is less than stellar is like a game designer complaining that his shit game got a bad review. It cannot be NAILED without making the complainer look like an absolute SPANNER. The [ALAN] KEY issue here is that this boffin has SCREWed up by e-NAILing (hmmm, I think my joke is losing altitude) El Reg.
But good coverage...
you think this is a joke? I worked for a "furniture"Co in huddersfield where the "joiners" regularly used a claw hammer as such even 1/2inch ones hit it once and 1/4 turn secures it. AS for El Reg doing something like fact checking hey its a red top they dont do things like that!
There are fixings specifically designed for this. A lot faster than screws, a lot more secure than nails and a whole lot easier and tidier to remove than nails too. I think they're called hammer fixings.
I remember an old git that lived near us calling the blokes fitting his windows all sorts of idiots for banging in screws with a hammer when they were using those fixings.
Anyone that has played with wood. No i mean in like shop class. Anyhoo, wood is the Silly Putty of construction materials. Bendy and forgiving of slow loads, yet unyielding to sudden impact.
A screw pushes the fibers aside, creating splits. A nail breaks and crushes the fibers, essentially drilling its own pilot hole. Starting a screw with a hammer blow, yeah our shop teacher included that.
At least they made cheap furniture out of wood back in those days. Now its all pressboard and suchlike.
Ewwwww, someone just had a hissy fit.
I don't suppose Dr Moore thought about the other impracticality of his invention. If you had to fly the damned contraption for more that half an hour allowing that batteries may well triple their lifespan at some point, can you imagine the neck ache from having to look up from a prone position to see where the hell you're going.
I can feel the need for an osteopath already.
Alien for the NASA connection
Hang glider pilots fly prone for hours on end. Apparently it takes a bit of practice to get used to it, but it's not a problem. Hang glider flights often last several hours and the longest flights can last ten hours or more.
Prone position is not a serious problem. Power to weight ratio, which depends primarily on energy density of your fuel source once you have to carry 80kg of human, is a serious problem. i.e. battery technology matters. Small scale model aircraft demonstrators don't really prove anything here: there are plenty of model aircraft with amazing flight behaviour. They just don't scale up to carrying a human, that's all.
I thought the original story was quite balanced to be honest, and far from beating his project up, was quite forgiving.
What I particularly dislike is that the guy hasn't even built the thing yet but is quite willing for his story to be out there.
Look, I can make a cgi demonstration of a multi headed vibrator designed to get 5 women off at once, and release a news story about it - but it doesn't mean i've actually built it.
So I do wish these engineers would stfu, build the wretched thing, and then show us the creation, warts and all.
I'm an ex-commercial pilot, and have learned a little about flying characteristics, ease of control, mechanical complexity, aerodynamics, mechanics and engineering (have done some extracurricular activities such as extra courses and taking part in building real airplanes),
As for the arguments.. The good doctors letters and quality of arguments are not up to par for a undergraduate. I should know, I enrolled in university at an old age and any time I try that sort of evangelical bullshit my professors scold me ;)
The mechanics and physics (including battery tech) are way out of what is truly possible now, especially considering the short battery life. Even with a doubling of power from the batteries you get limited to maybe 20 minutes of flight (take-off and landing take disproportionate amounts of energy, the climb also uses a lot more than cruise).
These 20 minutes of flight (with magic future batteries) include the take-off and landing. Unless he can solve all stability issues and all navigation issues this wouldn't work as anything other than an interesting toy.
Real airplanes (private flight in VFR) have to land with at least 45 minutes fuel remaining (contingency fuel), although I'm not sure that applies in USA, it does apply pretty much everywhere else.
Commercial flights need quite a bit more.
See any legal problems there?
20 (I'm being generous here) minutes total energy vs minimum of 45 minutes of fuel after landing. That equals -25 minutes of legal fuel on take-off. Which is not legal.
Even if it were legal, this kind of margin for error, or lack thereof, is unacceptable for this kind of critical applications. Unless the battery tech improves about 20 fold (twenty fold) this will remain an obsessed engineers pipe dream.
Paris, because she would buy his arguments.
That is a sane, controlled and well structured arguement unlike the Phd "dude". With that kind of language and overall english usage they must hand out Phds like smarties in the States.
I personally could not give a stuff for personal flying vehicles as I think they are unworkable tripe with respect to the complexities of flying, not banging into each other, and take-off and landing. A great deal of people (in in the States - most) cannot even drive a car sfaely so there is no way they are getting airborne.
The scientists I know, who have schemes involving incredible engineering, don't complain to journalists.
They write songs instead,
This has two benefits: it's a much better way of working of frustration, and when the song goes viral nobody is going to forget the journalist's mistake.
(That bit about windmilling props to generate power: don't you realise what nasty things that will do to the lift-drag ratio? Figure in the efficiencies, and it would reduce range a lot.)
(Yes, they do write songs: "Kantrowitz 1972 (HEL Crew's Song)". Trouble is, there are USAF Generals who would cream their pants at the thought of a laser with that output power. Any sufficiently advanced propulsion system is indistinguishable from a weapon.))
"That bit about windmilling props to generate power: don't you realise what nasty things that will do to the lift-drag ratio? Figure in the efficiencies, and it would reduce range a lot."
As I see it, El Reg suggested that the props be used to spin motors during descent to recharge batteries - much like the alternator in a car. If the prop blades were feathered during normal flight the drag would be reduced to minimum possible to suit the aircraft design, but then angle the blades on descent and make use of auto-rotation to give extra lift (simultaneously acting like an airbrake). This absorbed kinetic energy could easily be transferred to the batteries.
I'm not sure what type of motors this craft is supposedly using, but in general bushed motor designs will, by their very nature, become generators if spun without an electrical supply.
or he'll fly across the Atlantic on this personal air vehicle and take a dump on your roof!
Hey maybe he can sell one to Richard Branson to cross the Atlantic with too?
(yes, yes, I read the range and endurance numbers but don't stop them trying, maybe they'll get some of the extra double good batteries with bunnies in them)
I broadly sympathise with the inventor. You coverage was poor. Okay, so is his grammer, but he is not a smarty-pants professional writer like you. And his reactions, though harsh, are not much ruder that your article, and nowhere near the proper flame territory usually explored in this column. By comparison with a *real* flame, his emails are measused and mature, and almost restful. Fail.
The Doc's point is that his idea, is a concept. He didn't release anything, NASA did. Conceptual Design is his job. It's what he gets paid to do, and quite frankly is an important job. Even though the concept as a whole may not work and has challenges ahead of it, pieces of it may eventually find their way to an actual flying aircraft. That's generally how technology is improved. It all starts with an idea.
Over the many years of conceptual aircraft reporting, you guys pick THIS article to pick apart just because the creator of the concept understandably took issue with the way you reported it? Seriously?
I've read several articles that the Reg has put out concerning Aircraft, and those articles are commonly full of errors. Whether they are due to a lack of research or just to a lack of interest, I don't know.
On this particular article, similar to that of Sikorky's X2, it looked to be a mild regurgitation of articles posted/printed by Aviation week and Popular Science with added, albeit flawed, opinion.
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