Around January 2009, the Skycar Expedition Team plan to take the Skycar on a journey from London to legendary Timbuktu, a trip of about 3,700 miles. While that is an ambitious project for any concept vehicle on its shakedown cruise, the very nature of the vehicle itself promises that it will be a very unique trip.
The Skycar is a dual mode transportation vehicle. Let me elaborate further – the Skycar rips down the road like a paraglider. Now that is what I call dual mode. It takes only around 3 minutes to convert the vehicle from road mode to flying mode, so adapting to changing demands of the trip is definitely easy enough. The vehicle is powered by a 140 horsepower Yamaha sportbike engine that has been modified to burn ethanol. In the air the vehicle hopes to get speeds at around 100 mph at an attitude of 2,000 to 3,000 feet.
On the road the Skycar basically uses the same transportation mechanics as any good Everglades airboat. The large fan boosts the car to a zero-to-60 time of around 4.5 seconds. As an added feature, the fan driven nature of the vehicle gives it an offroad capability that other vehicles may not be able to follow. After all, you are not worried about wheel traction. However, you will need a bit of a run to get airborne if the situation calls for it, so a little strategic planning might be best before you get too wild.
The Skycar was aided in design by aviation engineer Gilo Cardozo, best known for flying to Mount Everest in a self-designed Wankel powered Parajet. This no doubt gives the vehicle a pretty hefty experimental pedigree, and this gives us the answer as to how the vehicle flies. The two seater uses a wing not unlike a paraglider for its flying capability, and this wing is theoretically stored inside the cabin when it is in road mode.
Of course, to carry a small car the wing is obviously a different beast than what you will find on a typical paraglider, and wing designer Mike Campbell Jones of Paramania Powergliders is responsible for this revolution in flexible wing technology.
It should be interesting to see how the trip progresses. If the technology continues to prove itself, who knows, maybe a dual mode green friendly vehicle will be commercially available soon.