The Moller Skycar is a prototype personal VTOL aircraft – a “flying car” – called a “volantor” by its inventor Paul Moller.
The Skycar demonstrated limited tethered flight capability in 2003. More tethered flight tests are now scheduled for an undisclosed date sometime after mid 2006. Moller is currently upgrading the Skycar’s engines, and the improved prototype is now called the “M400X”.
Given the machine’s very protracted development and its ambitiousness, skepticism that the machine will work as claimed remains high. The craft currently under development, the M400, is intended to ultimately transport four people. It is described as a car since it is aimed at being a popular means of transport for anyone who can drive, incorporating automated flight controls. The driver should only input direction and speed, no pilot knowledge being required.
Also, it is argued that by using eight inexpensive Wankel rotary engines, its price will eventually fall close to that of a quality car, even if at the moment the price for the first units is expected to be close to US$1 million.
Its proposed features would include 275 mph (442 km/h) cruise speed, 375 mph (603 km/h) maximum speed, eight redundant, low-emission Wankel engines for safety, residential garage size, fuel consumption like a big car, a parachute for the whole machine and road capability for short distances (to be driven to a vertiport). Although current plans call for use of alcohol fuel, cheap, lightweight fuel, such as liquid hydrogen, could be used as an alternative to gasoline, as in the Mazda RX-8 Hydrogen RE, although the lower energy density will limit range.
There are a great set of videos on their website: http://moller.com