[extropy-chat] Fw: Hydrogen cars

Kara Devar kimdu16 at earthlink.net
Sat Mar 11 03:28:00 UTC 2006

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Kara Devar" <kimdu16 at earthlink.net>
To: "ExI chat list" <extropy-chat at lists.extropy.org>
Sent: Friday, March 10, 2006 6:07 PM
Subject: Re: [extropy-chat] Hydrogen cars

>I love the "helicopter" idea, but it's a lot harder than it looks.  I have 
>30+ hours on helicopters and although I did well, I regretfully decided I'd 
>better stop until I could at least afford to fly one with a huge amount of 
>horsepower ($1,000,000 purchase--before maintenance and insurance.  Don't 
>even think about long-term rental.)  I was training in a Robinson R22--$250 
>per hour and one step above a lawn chair and a propeller-beanie.  My 
>instructor and one of his other students were both body-builders.  We're at 
>sea level, but they'd go out, sit on the roof, fire up the rotor, and walk 
>back disgusted because there just wasn't enough air that day.  100 lbs 
>under the designated weight, but still not safe to fly.
> Unfortunately, while the horsepower buys you out of some problems and time 
> to fix other problems, it's very expensive both in dollars and mechanical 
> complexity.  The problems are: too many flight controls, too many weird 
> time lags in each control, long preflights, and an incredible sensitivity 
> to weather, ground affects and numerous other hard-to-quantify factors. 
> Compared to fixed-wing craft, helicopters are very intuitive and 
> incredibly unforgiving.  (I think a pilot can have as little as 0.50 
> seconds to stabilize a helicopter if it "settles in power"--basically 
> descends through its own rotor wash.)
> I'm not a fixed wing pilot, but my boyfriend (Chris) is completing his 
> commercial license.  I fly with him and am constantly surprised at the 
> traffic issues, the navigation issues, the maintenance issues...etc.  Even 
> in a $450K+ fully loaded computerized Cirrus (weather, terrain avoidance, 
> obstacle avoidance, parachute, traffic) we're shocked at how many other 
> craft go undetected and how many errors there are in the obstacle 
> databases. The parachute is nice, but plenty of people have died under an 
> optimally-deployed canopy.  (It has saved some--yeah!)  The raw technology 
> may be there to self-coordinate flights via GPS, but even in 2006, the 
> economics and the distribution of the technology just aren't where they 
> need to be.  Chris is also in the Air Force Reserves and stationed at 
> Edwards, so I've seen the Global Hawk and Predators in action.  Talk about 
> PRINCESS aircraft!  Unmanned but the maintenance/fussing requirements put 
> a Newport Beach girl like me to shame!
> Unfortunately, private flying still seems surprisingly complicated and 
> expensive.  The only place I've seen it work on a commuting basis is 
> Alaska. They fly their planes like we drive our cars, but they're also 
> very skilled pilots (time, money, natural ability, education, dedication, 
> Darwinian selection, focus and guts all far beyond those of a normal 
> commuter).
> I heard about a test on the I-15 in California of automated car 
> control--that might be a more workable solution than flying cars.  I know 
> driving a car in two dimensions is dangerous, but with flying cars, there 
> would be a long period of huge expenses and stunning fatality rates (think 
> of the lawsuits!).   It's hard to get over that initial hump...
> Too bad!
> Kara
> (Long-Time Lurker)
> ----- Original Message ----- 
> From: "Emlyn" <emlynoregan at gmail.com>
> To: "ExI chat list" <extropy-chat at lists.extropy.org>
> Sent: Friday, March 10, 2006 4:50 PM
> Subject: Re: [extropy-chat] Hydrogen cars
>> On a mostly unrelated note, except it's still vaguely about cars, I've
>> been wondering why they don't fly yet, and what to do about it.
>> It seems to me (who is flying interstate a lot at the moment - it
>> sucks!) that there are issues with flying cars (chiefly, how could
>> people possibly pilot them in crowded airspace? Planes are hard to
>> fly). But maybe they could be solved for the long haul trips (where
>> they'd be really useful).
>> It seems to me that if your car could fly & roll (rotors + wheels?),
>> you could just use the flying for inter-city travel (aka the Moulton
>> Aerocar, see here for a picture and some funky effort to make a modern
>> version: http://www.aerocar.com/ ). To take the human element out, you
>> would think heavily restricted and predetermined automated flight
>> paths could work. It'd be like cable cars without the cable - you
>> drive up to the launch point, the autopilot takes over, and flies you
>> to your chosen destination (in a big stream of similar vehicles that
>> are on the same flightpath), lands, and you drive off onto the roads.
>> There'd be no need to get the autopilot really smart. For example,
>> avoiding obstacles isn't necessary with a cable car, and it isn't
>> necessary here, you just have to spend effort to make sure the flight
>> corridor is always clear. So at best, maybe a panic mode that
>> automatically lands you wherever you are, or even (or plus) an
>> ejection/parachute mechanism.
>> I don't know what flight mechanism you use. Fixed wing seems too
>> tricky, maybe rotors would be good. You want something that can stop
>> and hover, gives the autopilot more to work with. But are
>> helicopter-type vehicles too hard to control with autopilot?
>> --
>> Emlyn
>> http://emlynoregan.com   * blogs * music * software *
>> Our show at the Fringe: http://SpiritAtTheFringe.com
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