DARPA is one of those agencies that must have a room filled with geniuses, all sitting around trying to come up with the latest and greatest in technology and equipment. Of course, we don't think they get to see the most recent science-fiction movies, and that's why these ideas seem to always feel a little too reminiscent of something we've seen before, but we won't hold that against them. This time around, they've got something planned that will bring together the military's juggernaut vehicle, the Humvee, and combine it with something like a helicopter. Or a hover craft. Or just a flying car from Sim City 2000.
This ambitious project, which was found in Pentagon budget documents last year but now made public thanks to a PDF, is called, right now at least, the Transformer TX, and for good reason. If you read the below quote close enough, there's a bit of key language in there that makes us think this thing might actually be way too similar to a Hasbro-like Transformer:
The Government’s envisioned concept consists of a robust ground vehicle that is capable of configuring into a VTOL [Vertical Take Off and Landing] air vehicle with a maximum payload capability of approximately 1,000 lbs.
Now, we understand that flying cars is something that we all want, and that we've all wanted since well before the year 2000 disappointed everybody, but this wording makes us think that DARPA has something else planned for their little hover-Humvee. Instead of just saying the Humvee will have the ability to fly around and carry 1,000 pounds, they say it will "configure into" a VTOL. That makes us think this will be a Humvee by day, and turn into a hover-car by night (minus the night and day specific configurations, of course).
Size wise, this is going to be a bit bigger than your traditional military-grade Humvee. It has to be less than 30 feet in length, and should be about nine feet in width. DARPA also wants the Transformer TX to travel up to 250 miles on one tank of gas, and they want it to reach up to altitudes of 10,000 feet when it's flying around. Best of all, though, while they know pilots are still the best way to navigate flying things, the Transformer TX would also be equipped with remote piloting, just in case a certain situation is too hairy for a crew.
Science and the development of technology is one of the reasons that military's can remain pertinent, but this is a little out there. We imagine that DARPA isn't going to stop the crazy schemes any time soon, but if this does indeed come to fruition, we hope it's not going to cost millions of dollars to create, or keep maintained for that matter. (Though, we know that's not likely.) Nevertheless, from a completely tech standpoint, this is ridiculously awesome, and we hope we get to see some video of a flying Humvee soon. Especially if they get that working prototype working by 2015, like they want.
[via The Register]