Saturday, January 2, 2016

Questions America Wants Answered: What Does Toyota's New Patent Mean For Flying Cars?

From The Washington Post:
If you’re ever bothered by the blind spots in the typical car today, then you would hate to drive a flying car.

But a new Toyota patent offers a solution to a classic flying car problem — awful blind spots and a vehicle that’s too wide for roads, parking spaces and garages.

Toyota received a patent for a stackable wing that sits on top of a flying car. (U.S. Patent and Trademark Office)
Flying cars are rare, but you can find a few in the wild. A handful of companies around the globe are developing them. A long list of challenges has held back flying cars since their initial creation almost a century ago. One problem is putting the wings on the side of the car, which blocks driver sight lines and makes the vehicle so wide that it’s difficult to park and drive on roads. 
Toyota’s patent calls for stackable wings on top of a flying car.

“It’s a very innovative idea,” said Pete Schumacher, professor of aerodynamics at the University of North Dakota. “Will there be other problems? Yeah.”

Stacking wings makes them less efficient. Wings work because the pressure is higher below than above them, which creates lift. But the high pressure beneath the top wing on Toyota’s patent will interfere with the desired low pressure below the second highest wing.

“It’s incredibly inefficient,” said John Brown, a project manager at Carplane, a German company developing its own flying car. “And it may actually be too inefficient. You’d have to put it in a wind tunnel and see just how efficient it is.”...MORE