Burt Rutan, a lifelong designer of lightweight and energy-efficient aircraft, has announced one final design to end his long career. The BIPOD, or model 367, is a low-drag, twin pod worthy of both road and air travel, powered by a hybrid gas-electric drive system.
The model 367 features two cockpits for double the fun on a four wheeled chassis. The vehicle has drawn comparisons to the Chevy Volt and the Siemen’s hybrid DA36 EStar due to its engine configuration: it holds in its bodies two 450cc four stroke internal combustion engines, which power a pair of generators which will, in turn, power four 20 hp electric motors used for propulsion. Two 20 hp electric motors will power the wheels on the road. Lithium batteries, stored in the nose, round out the list and and serve to give energy for take-off and emergency landings.
The BIPOD is flown from the right cockpit, and driven from the left. It has a wingspan of 31 feet and 10 inches, and at under eight feet wide without the wings, it should fit neatly into a single car garage (although one imagines that storage constraints will probably not be an issue for early adopters of such rare birds, should they ever become available for purchase). The airplane will have STOL (Short Take-Off and Landing) capabilities, perfect for private backyard runways, and should reach a maximum speed of 200 mph with a 530 mile range.
A more conservative cruising speed of 100 mph will net the pilot a wider 760 mile range. If you want to keep things on the ground though, the 18-gallon fuel tank will take you up to 820 miles, 35 of those on just electricity. We are witnessing the birth of a new breed (whee, carplane!) in its nascent stages- and more car-like than the Terrafugia (which is $250k a pop). The crew at Scaled Composites pushed this out in four months using as many COTS components as possible; give them some interested buyers and time and I imagine fuel efficiency and carbon footprint issues may improve.
Everyday we get a little closer to the Jetsons…