Ever since the inception of the car, we've always wanted them to do more! That's what innovation and technology is about. The concept of flying cars came about and we were intrigued by the possibilities. Everyone could enjoy the freedom of flying with less time spent at traffic jams or road holdups.
And now, Elon Musk, the man who taught us that even sky is not the limit, may be thinking of a building a flying car next!
Recently, he tweeted, “The new Roadster will actually do something like this”, and it had a GIF attached to it of the iconic flying car from back to the future – The Delorean.
The new Roadster will actually do something like this https://t.co/fIsTAYa4x8— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) January 9, 2019
He Is Not Joking About the Concept!
Elon is known for its sarcastic take on things but then again, people over Twitter were hoping this to be true and Elon himself answered to that suspicion by providing a plan that actually makes sense! He said that he would use the SpaceX cold gas thruster system in Tesla with ultra-high pressure air in a composite over-wrapped pressure vessel to be used as thrusters.
I’m not. Will use SpaceX cold gas thruster system with ultra high pressure air in a composite over-wrapped pressure vessel in place of the 2 rear seats.— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) January 9, 2019
The only trade-off being the fuel storage, which will take up the passenger seats in the Tesla.
If you have seen Back to the Future II, you will know how cool the DeLorean Time Machine was when it transformed into a flying car by flipping its wheels to reveal the thrusters.
Now, hooking up a rocket engine to the car may work, but it is not sustainable. You will run out of fuel within mere minutes or even seconds based on fuel capacity.
The alternative is air thrusters that are used in jet engines. If you have noticed a jet and a rocket, you will see that the jet engine takes air from the atmosphere, and thrusts it out of the exhaust with high pressure.
The is the driving principle of airplanes and jets.
The Numbers Suggest That We Might Have to Wait A Bit
So, out of the two, currently, the best way will be using air thrusters. But with air thrusters, we cannot ignore fan blades. You might have seen the rotating fans in airplane engines.
Basically, the larger they are, the more thrust they can provide. If they are smaller, then they will have to make up for it by spinning faster.
Generally, longer blades make less noise when compared to the smaller ones, granted they have to give the same thrust. The Model 3 has 20-inch wheels and having 20-inch fan blades to lift an 1800 kg car will certainly be a challenge.
The guys at Wired took the calculation a bit further and went ahead to calculate the how much actual thrust of a 4 x 20-inch thrusters attached to the Tesla would make. The answer is 1.7 megawatts.
Tesla sports a 75kWh battery and bringing that into the whole equation will give the overall flight time to be 2.64 minutes. It is certainly not a viable means of transport as of now and the technology to convert a Tesla to a flying car doesn’t exist now.
Still, we can hope that Elon might change that too!