Flying-Car Inventor Mounts Crowd-Funding Campaign
The inventor of a vertical-lifting flying car is offering rides to the first 15 people who contribute $15,000 to his Indiegogo campaign, which runs through January 4, writes Susan Karlin for Fast Company’s blog Co.Create. The goal of Paul Sandner Moller’s crowd-funding campaign is to raise money for final safety testing of his “Skycar” for FAA approval. He needs $958,000 more to install new 816-horsepower motors and FAA-required safety elements in the vehicle, and for extensive ground testing before mounting an untethered, piloted flight, Karlin writes.
Most of that amount — namely $932,000 — has already been pledged by: Nitro-Turbodyne, an FAA-designated engineering firm with corporate offices in Cheyenne, Wyo., and a lab facility in Camarillo, Calif., that’s handing the flight testing; Freedom Motors in Davis, Calif. (a former Moller subsidiary that built the rotary engines); and CliC Goggles, in Corte Madera, Calif., Karlin reports. Ed De Reyes, Chief Technology Officer for Nitro-Turbodyne (N-T), has been chosen as the chief test pilot, according to a Moller press release.
The 76-year-old inventor, who has 43 patents including one for Skycar, told the Coast to Coast AM radio show that he was inspired to create the vehicle when he was growing up in rural Canada and was captivated by the mobility of the hummingbird, according to C2C AM’s website.
He explained that the Skycar is not a car which becomes an airplane and, instead, is more of ‘an airplane that has mobility on the ground.’ To that end, he envisions future Skycar owners driving the vehicle to a vertiport and then flying to ‘almost anywhere.’ Moller also suggested that, as the vehicle gets further recognized by the FAA, the legal requirement to fly a Skycar will eventually become merely a pilot’s certificate rather than a license, which will drastically reduce costs for consumers.
Skycar is different from other personal air vehicles such as Airbike and Terrafugia (the latter of which this blog has written about), as it can vertically lift off and land on a driveway or street, whereas the others require an airport runway, Karlin writes. “The Skycar would allow you to back out of your garage, drive to Starbucks and pick up your morning coffee, and then, from the parking lot, push a button and fly to work 100 miles away,” says Moller.
Moller, a TED speaker and former professor of aeronautics at the University of California, Davis, told Fast Company that his company chose crowd-sourcing rather than increasing stock shares so as not to dilute stock value. Crowd-funding enables “the average person” to make a direct contribution without having to buy stock, he said, adding, “This way, we can give really nice gifts and make people part of a team that can help make this happen.”
Money raised by the Indiegogo campaign will be used to prepare the Skycar for its first official off-tether flight at an altitude of 2,000 feet, in June 2014, Karlin reports. That flight will feature the Skycar M400, an experimental four-seat model weighing 1,200 pounds. After its June flight and six more months of testing, Moller will donate the M400 to the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C. He will then focus on a two-person Skycar M200, the model he plans to sell to the public, Karlin writes.
Skycar’s Indiegogo page quotes Dr. Daniel Golden, Former NASA Director and Administrator: “VTOL aircraft will travel at four times the speed of highways to 25% of the nation’s suburban, rural and remote communities in 10 years and 90% within 25 years.” As of yesterday afternoon, the Indiegogo campaign had raised $15,664. Indiegogo campaigns receive all pledged funds, even if they do not reach their goal amount. Donor gifts are based on pledge amount. The first 15 people to donate $15,000 will get a ride in the Skycar; the first 25 to pledge $5,000 will get a ride on the Neuera volanter, a flying saucer Moller developed; and a $25 donation will get you a certificate and website listing as “Flight Test Crew,” a laptop sticker, a poster of the Skycar and a mug with its official flight-test team logo.
Finally, as Karlin writes:
Forget jetpacks. Forward-thinking commuters should be asking, ‘Where’s my flying car?’
You can see Moller’s Indiegogo video here: