I’ve been checking in on Paul Moller and his SkyCar project occasionally since the late 1980s when I read an article in the Economist about his project. He has been working on flying cars since the 1960s and has made a few millions along the way with spinoff inventions such as the SuperTrapp muffler and a line of compact rotary engines. But still no flying car. Just hovering cars as seen in these videos.
Via the Spaceports blog comes a pointer to an announcement from Moller that a Chinese based firm has agreed to provide $80M initially and up to $480M to get a VTOL vehicle in production: Moller Forms Joint Venture with Athena Technologies, Inc. – Moller
DAVIS, Ca. January 23, 2013–Moller International, Inc. (MI) (OTC-QB: MLER), the developer of the Skycar
® and Neuera™ aircraft announced today that it has received a signed memorandum of understanding (MOU) agreeing to create a US-based Joint Venture (JV) with Athena Technologies Inc. of Harbor City, California. The goal of the newly formed JV is to establish co-production for its aircraft in the US and the People’s Republic of China.
Under the provisions of the memorandum, MI will team with this US company-led JV to jointly produce numerous models of its vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) aircraft. The JV will initially invest $80 million (USD) of a planned $480 million investment with the objective of producing a variety of VTOL aircraft by 2014. Production will include the Skycar® 200 LS, Skycar® 400, Skycar® 600 and Neuera™ aircraft.
MI is to retain its Intellectual Property (IP) while providing the JV with aircraft designs,ready-to-install Rotapower® rotary aviation engines, and the requirements for the airframe and flight control systemhardware to be produced in China. The JV is to provide all necessary production funding, purchase a 35% ownership in MI and provide MI with 25% fixed ownership in the JV for a period of 10 years
The full text of the announcement is available at: Moller-Athena-MOU.pdf
Meanwhile, the company Space Sciences Corporation in New Mexico has an agreement with Moller to commercialize an early version of the SkyCar. In this Moonandback interview from last October, the co-founders of the firm “talk about their activities over the past year in developing vertical takeoff/vertical landing (VTVL) craft – a putative Flying Saucer” : John D’Alessandro and Lindsay Quarrie – A Flying Saucer Update – Moonandback.
[Update Jan.30.13: In Part 2 of the interview they “talk about how a flying saucer excites the public and kindles the educational experience, and they look at some of the applications for a vertical takeoff and landing flying vehicle” : John D’Alessandro and Lindsay Quarrie – The Cool Factor – Moonandback.
As I’ve mentioned before, I think the best hope for a practical VTOL flying car will be more along the lines of the Israeli UrbanAero AirMule. You can follow its progress via their updates and videos & downloads. The Aerofex Tandem Duct Aerial Vehicle takes a similar design approach: