US Military Wants an All-Terrain, Hybrid, Transforming Flying Car

I love the Transformers; but not the terrible, loud, and innuendo-laced Micheal Bay version. I’m talking old school 80’s toys made popular by the Transformers cartoon. Those guys were awesome, though I was always disappointed when the Decepticons were defeated, not because the Autobots were better, but because Megatron was an inept leader at best.

Someone in the military must be a fan of Transformers too. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has revealed plans for an all-terrain wheeled vehicle that can transform into an airplane and go as far as 250 miles on a tank of gas. Awesome.

The military has a history of hair-brained defense schemes, but this sounds like one that might actually make it to production one day. The design calls for a VTOL, or Vertical Take Off and Landing vehicle, sort of like the Osprey pictured to the left. It would also be about the size of two Hummers parked bumper-to-bumper with a price limitation of $43 million. So far, so good, right?

While the 250 mile range may not seem like a lot, consider we’re talking about military equipment. Military equipment is, well, heavy. As adding jump jets, a VTOL system, armor, and weaponry — plus the wheeled vehicle component — is going to make this a very heavy vehicle that is supposed to be equally at home on land and in the air (up to 10,000 feet!). No specific word on armament, but a vehicle like this is sure to have at least a few cannons or machine guns. The designs call for a hybrid system, though what kind, it is hard to say (I’m thinking a diesel-electric makes the most sense). The vehicle would be capable of holding four fully-equipped soldiers, or at least one medic and a stretcher, or carrying at least 1,000 pounds of equipment. The project would also have to be able to pilot itself… you know, just in case Megatron starts some trouble. See how I tied that back in to the Transformers reference?

Sounds a bit fanciful, but not outside the realm of possibility. Let’s see what happens.

Source: Popular Science | Image: US Air Force

Christopher DeMorro

A writer and gearhead who loves all things automotive, from hybrids to HEMIs, can be found wrenching or writing- or else, he's running, because he's one of those crazy people who gets enjoyment from running insane distances.