EU Invests In Flying Cars

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The European Commission, which acts as the executive branch of the European Union, has invested $6.2 million in myCopter, a project working toward creating a personal air vehicle (PAV) for public transport in crowded cities. MyCopter, headed by Prof. Heinrich Bulthoff of the Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics in Germany, plans to test various concepts for a partially autonomous, vertical-take-off-and-landing vehicle, using computer simulations, UAVs, and a helicopter. "We aim to develop technologies that could be used to form a new transportation system for personal travel that uses the third dimension, and which takes into account questions surrounding the expectations of potential users and how the public would react to and interact with such a system," Bulthoff told Gizmag.

Research for the four-year project will include the development of new technologies that could be useful for obstacle avoidance, route planning and formation flying in a variety of aerospace applications, according to the myCopter website. Bulthoff said he hopes to design small PAVs that can carry one or two people, operate as easily as a car, automatically avoid other aircraft, and run on batteries to minimize environmental impact. There are no major technological barriers to creating the myCopter, he told New Scientist. However, "making it affordable is another question." Other partners in the project include several universities and technological institutes across Europe.