British engineer created a unique car-helicopter hybrid capable of driving across difficult terrain using large rear drive wheels and when the obstacles become too big, it can simply take-off and fly over them. A working unit has already been demonstrated and the entire project is up for Crowdfunding on Kickstarter.
Witold Mielniczek, a Ph.D. student and robotics expert from the University of Southampton in the UK, developed a patent pending hybrid quadcopter-car vehicle. The unit known simply as “B” is powered by an 11.1-volt lithium-polymer battery, which is said to provide up to 15 minutes of combined driving and flying per charge. –
According to Mielniczek, the combination of the special design of B and material selection creates a solid construction that is capable of surviving the worst of landings. When the vehicle crashes from a high altitude, the driving rings detach from the housing and can be easily put back together. The main chassis of the B is made out of Polycarbonate (the same strong material used in bullet proof windows). –
The B has very large wheels compared to its total size – 8.2 inches (or 210mm) and using them it can achieve fast speeds while driving on difficult terrain. The B has a built in front HD camera (1280×720 px) which can record its movements from the vehicle’s point of view (on a Micro SD Card up to 32GB). –
Although at this stage B is just a toy, the design itself has potential to do much more. Mielniczek mentions a few interesting potential applications for the design including a type of exploration vehicle covered in solar panels, which will enable the B to charge from the sun or the use of freely rotating propellers against the wind to generate extra power when stationary. Even if the charging time would take a few days, B could autonomously conduct exploration missions, land in a safe place, charge and then travel depending on environment either by flying or driving. Providing interesting video footage and still images, B may be able to discover new species which we may not have discovered yet around the far corners of the planet (and maybe in the more distant future even go to Mars). –
Another option mentioned by Mielniczek is a full size version of the B which can be used as a new type of sports vehicle – unlike any currently in existence which could open the door to an entirely different racing spots. A full scale B can also be used for search and rescue missions – arriving at an accident site far faster than any ambulance and cheaper than a helicopter. –
B is currently up for Crowdfunding on Kickstarter and it already raised more than it needed to in order to complete the project (over £100,000) with just a few days to go. A full version of the B will cost you £320.
– More information can be found on Mielniczek’s Go Beyond website. – A video of the B in action
Iddo has a B.A. in Philosophy and Cognitive Science and an M.A. in Philosophy of Science from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He is currently writing his Ph.D. thesis on the relationship between the scientific community and industry. Iddo was awarded the 2006 Bar Hillel philosophy of science prize for his work on the relationship between science and technology. He is a member of the board of the lifeboat foundation and was the editor of several high-profile science and technology websites since 1999.