- Moller Skycar M400
name = Skycar M400
caption = A poster of the skycar
Flying car (aircraft)
first flight =
status = Under development
primary user =
more users =
number built =
unit cost =
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The Moller Skycar is a
prototypepersonal VTOL(vertical take-off and landing) aircraft— a " flying car" — called a "volantor" by its inventor Paul Moller, [Any heavier-than-air "powered lift" craft, such as the Moller M400, is technically called an aerodyne.] who has been attempting to develop such vehicles for many years.
The design calls for four
ducted fans - the propellors being covered which is safer and more efficient at low speeds.
The craft said to be currently under development, the M400, is purported to ultimately transport four people; however, single-seat up to six-seat variations are planned. [ [http://www.networkperformancedaily.com/2007/08/just_too_cool_interview_podcas.html Interview with Paul Moller about future cars] ] It is described as a car since it is aimed at being a popular means of
transportfor anyone who can drive, incorporating automated flight controls. It is proposed that in a model for the general public, the driver may only input direction and speed and there would be no piloting knowledge being required. The Skycar might use a system like the Small Aircraft Transportation System(SATS) in 3D "crowded" airspace areas. [ [http://sats.larc.nasa.gov/ Small Aircraft Transportation System (SATS) Project Office] ]
Further, developers claim that by using eight inexpensive Wankel rotary engines - compared to
jet engines, the vehicle's price may eventually fall close to that of a luxury car ($100,000), even if at the moment the price for the first units is expected to be close to USD$1 million.
Its proposed features would include approximately 305 mph (491 km/h) cruise speed, 360 mph (579 km/h) maximum speed, max. altitude 10.8 km, ascend speed 1.4 km/minute, max. payload 340 kg, max. take off weight 1088 kg, more than 8.5 km/liter (20 mpg) (bio)
ethanol, eight redundant, low-emission Wankel engines for safety, residential garage size, a parachutefor the whole machine and roadcapability for short distances (to be driven to a vertiport). [http://www.moller.com/newm.htm New M400] Quote: "... [New] M400 Specification..."] The fuel mileage is claimed to be similar to that of a big car, but despite potentially shorter routes and less queuing, this is widely viewed as unrealistic.Fact|date=August 2008 Operation of a Skycar "will only produce as much noise as traffic on a nearby freeway" when taking off, and "This will only last for a few seconds, because it climbs so quickly." [cite web|url=http://www.c3daero.com/aviation/thefuture.aspx|title=The Future: The Moller Skycar and other new aircraft]
A smaller version of the low-emissions Wankel engine from the M400 was slated for the
Moller M200X, and these engines runs on a mixture of 70% (bio)ethanol and 30% water. Earlier models used gasoline. The ethanol/water fuel mixture makes the fuel almost totally non-flammable outside the engines, which dramatically lowers the fire hazard. The water cools the engines, with a higher usable compression and the result is better performing engines than with 100% ethanol. The mixture makes the engine pollution lower than the Californiastrict SULEVstandard ("Super Ultra Low Emissions Vehicle"). [ [http://www.moller.com/files/Ethanol-Water-Mix_Press_Release_5-18-07v2.pdf Ethanol-Water-Mix_Press_Release_5-18-07] ] Even with pure ethanol the engines fulfills the SULEV standard. [ [http://www.smartbrief.com/news/AIA/industryBW-detail.jsp?id=29B39EF9-9500-43DE-AAEB-20DE920D5F98&brief=AIA Aug 10, 2006, Business Wire: Rotapower Engine Achieves SULEV Emissions Goal] Quote: "...The 530 cc engine tested produced 22 hp at 4500 rpm with an air/fuel ratio of 20 and lambda of 1.35.
The toxic emission levels with ethanol were as follows:
Unburned hydrocarbons (HC) = .5 ppm or .0043 gm/hphr
Carbon monoxide (CO) = 9 ppm or .03 gm/hphr
Nitrous oxide (NOx) = 3 ppm or .016 gm/hphr..."]
The Skycar demonstrated limited tethered flight capability in 2003. Scheduled tethered flight tests, that were to occur in mid-2006, were apparently canceled. Moller upgraded the Skycar's engines in 2007, and the improved prototype is now called the "M400X". Additional flight tests were supposedly to be conducted once Moller engineers have completed the upgrades to the Skycar's nacelles with the larger engines.Fact|date=February 2007 Recently, the skycar has gone through several permulations after wind testing. The wind testing has allowed the engineers of Moller International to actually improve safer landings and ground stability.
MythBustershas reported that more than 200 million US dollars have gone into the development of the Skycar.Fact|date=October 2007
The only demonstrations approaching flight have been hover tests performed by a Skycar prototype that for insurance reasons was tethered to a crane. [ [http://www.moller.com/test.htm Test ] ]
Moller had been taking refundable deposits on the M400 since 2003. [ [http://web.archive.org/web/20030124011149/http://www.moller.com/purchase/purch_info.html M400 Skycar Deposit Information] Archived copy of Moller web site from 2003.] Refund conditions included failure to meet rated performance or failure to obtain US FAA flight certification by
December 31, 2005. Since 2003, Moller has slipped the date for FAA flight certification one year each year. As of 2007, Moller's claimed date for FAA certification stood at December 31, 2008. [ [http://www.moller.com/purc.htm Purchase Skycar] from Moller official website] As of August 13, 2008, the Moller website indicates that they are "currently not taking deposits on aircraft". [ [http://www.moller.com/purchase.htm Purchase Skycar] Purchase section of Moller International website, August 12, 2008]
In October 2006, Moller attempted to auction the only prototype of its M400 model on
eBay. It failed to sell. The highest bid was $3,000,100; Dr. Moller reported at the annual meeting of stockholders on October 21, 2006in Davis, CA that the reserve price had been $3,500,000. [ [http://www.motorauthority.com/news/concept-cars/ebay-watch-moller-m400x-skycar-prototype/ "eBay Watch: Moller M400X Skycar prototype"] from MotorAuthority.com] A previous attempt in 2003 to sell the M400 via eBay was also unsuccessful. [ [http://www.moller.com/files/DEC2006CAMPInSightMollerreprint.pdf "The Skycar: Transportation of the Future"] from official Moller website (PDF file)]
Given the machine's very protracted development and its ambitiousness, skepticism that the machine will work as claimed remains high.Fact|date=October 2007
In 2007, Moller announced that the
M200G Volantora precursor to the Moller Skycar, capable of hovering 10 feet above the ground and traveling up to 50 MPH, would hopefully be on the market in the United States by early 2008.Cite news | url = http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/business/6970031.stm | title = 'Flying saucer' nears US take-off | work = BBC News|date=2007-08-30 | accessdate = 2007-08-30] Depending on demand, Moller says, the M200G Volantor could cost under $100,000.Cite news | title = Flying Saucers Go Into Production | work = Sky News|date=2007-08-03 | accessdate = 2007-08-30 | url = http://news.sky.com/skynews/article/0,,70131-1278332,00.html]
In 2003, the
Securities and Exchange Commissionsued Moller for civil fraud "(Securities And Exchange Commission v. Moller International, Inc., and Paul S. Moller, Defendants)" in connection with the sale of unregistered stock, and for making unsubstantiated claims about the performance of the Skycar. Moller settled this lawsuit by agreeing to a permanent injunction and paying $50,000. [ [http://www.sec.gov/litigation/litreleases/lr17987.htm Securities And Exchange Commission v. Moller International, Inc., and Paul S. Moller, Defendants] from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission website] In the words of the SEC complaint, "As of late 2002, MI's approximately 40 years' of development has resulted in a prototype Skycar capable of hovering about fifteen feet above the ground." [ [http://www.sec.gov/litigation/complaints/comp17987.htm Complaint: Moller International, Inc., and Paul S. Moller] from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission website]
The Moller Skycar had a brief role in the
Clive Cusslernovel Atlantis Found.
* [http://www.moller.com/ Moller International]
* [http://www.moller.co.kr/ Moller International in Korea]
* [http://www.skycar.co.za/ Skycar Africa(Pty)Ltd., the South African agent to Moller International]
* [http://www.sec.gov/litigation/litreleases/lr17987.htm A formal claim of fraud against Moller International from the SEC web site]
* [http://www.downside.com/scams/moller Moller Discojet brochure from 1974]
* [http://www.skyaid.org/Skycar/overview2001ALL.htm Overview of Skycar and transportation]
* [http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/3475918 "Seven Flights of Fancy that Fizzled" - MSNBC]
* [http://www.gizmag.com/go/1378/1/ Gizmag]
* [http://daviswiki.org/Moller_International Davis California Wiki]
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