Boeing seems to be interested in flying backpacks.
This week, at the aviation industry conference in Texas, Boeing said they would launch a Grand Prix called Go Fly Prize and invite general technology enthusiasts to design a vertical & ; Personal flight device & rdquo ;.
The conditions offered by Boeing are generous, and they will not only work with other aviation giants to provide technical guidance to the contestants, but more importantly, the "
The final winner will be able to get 1 million dollars, the most lightweight design award and the most quiet design award for the $ 250,000, and the most destructive scientific and technological progress award.
Even if you do not enter the final final, as long as you design the prototype enough color, you still have the opportunity and the other three players together, each received a reward of 50,000 dollars.
If even the prototype did not come out? It does not matter, as long as your design concept interesting and reliable, then you can get 20,000 dollars. Of course, get this award will be more people, a total of 10.
So, it's a bonus, and Boeing has invested $ 2 million for the Grand Prix. So what are their requirements for the entries?
The specific requirements in the notice are as follows:
(Flying device) can carry at least 20 miles (about 32 km), can not be half-way to add fuel; finished products to "very light, quiet, can let anyone in any place can be free to use & rdquo ;.
"regular army & rdquo; production of flying backpack
The above criteria seem to be very simple, but if you have observed the finished product of the flight backpack manufacturers, you may not think so.
Known as the world's first flight backpack producer New Zealand Martin flight company produced the latest Martin flight bag, although 30 minutes can fly 30-50 km, but its empty weight of 200 kg, and did not achieve the desired Boeing & ldquo; very light "The goal of" rdquo ".
And Martin flight bag in China's first flight is even more difficult to call on the success. I do not know whether due to acclimatized, in December 6, 2015 the first flight, it only flew three minutes, and the height is only about 10 meters.
But even if the first flight performance is poor, Martin's controlling shareholder Guangqi or confidence in their products. Guangqi had a high profile announced Martin's 1 series of flying backpack personal version will be listed in 2017, but also early in the Jingdong Mall opened a scheduled.
But when the last three quarters of 2017, the matter is still not available, whether it is Martin or light did not mention the news of shipping this year.
Fortunately, Martin's official website fairly kind, let us know the product release "exact time" consumer product release time set in 2020, while the personal version of the shipping time later, 2030 years.
So now this time, what are they doing?
According to Martin's official home page on the latest news & rdquo ;, they in July this year has completed a new product prototype unmanned testing phase, is currently being carried out manned test.
In this case, we may wish to enjoy the next they are testing this 1 series flight backpack it:
From the figure, Martin jet backpack flight principle is more like a helicopter: gasoline engine propeller, propeller to provide lift.
Without the use of jet power means less energy consumption, while the use of propellers will continue the flight backpack single flight time.
But this way, the volume of the backpack will increase, the appearance is more bloated.
Unlike Martin, JetPack Aviation chose the opposite path of development.
The company's JB-10 jet backpack is equipped with a twin-turbojet engine that is powered by conventional aviation fuel or diesel. This design makes JetPack quite proud, they claim that they are the only true flying backpack manufacturers in the world.
At the same time, because there is no propeller and other equipment, the figure of the JB-10 jet backpack is also much lighter than the Martin backpack. According to JetPack, their products are small enough to fit into the car & rdquo ;.
But the small size, performance will be affected. Although the JB-10 speed of 103 km speed faster than Martin's 74 km / h a lot, but the battery life is Mishap: JB-10 every takeoff and landing, up to only 10 minutes, this with Martin's 30 minutes Compared to the gap is very obvious.
Therefore, in order to reverse the performance disadvantage, Jetpack naturally need to force in the new product.
According to the company's latest monthly report, JB-11 prototype has been basically completed.
Compared with the 10 generation, JB-11's biggest advance is the engine. JB-10 has only two engines, and 11 generations are added to six in one breath. This side enhances the power of the backpack, on the other hand also increased the security, even if an engine failure, it will not bring a fatal impact to the backpack.
But the question is, six engines under the jet backpack is still able to maintain the previous small volume? From the light of the music and JetPack products, long life and small size seems to exist between the natural contradictions.
And for JetPack, the bigger trouble is the cash-strapped.
Previously, JetPack had an investment invitation on the official website, hoping to spend millions of dollars for product development. But now, their "small target" has become 300,000:
This time may be asked, flying backpack so cutting-edge things, why not get Google and other technology giants support it?
In fact, Google really concerned about this project.
As early as the middle of the last century, Bell aircraft company invented the flight backpack. At that time they also received the support of the US military. The reason is that the latter hopes to apply the backpack to space.
However, the cost of soaring military gradually lost patience. Although Google later took over Bell's "backpack" heritage "but they were in the independent research and development for some time, also began to have a commercial potential for this product had doubts.
In May 2014, Astro Teller, the project leader Astro Teller, publicly said that although they thought the rocket flight backpack was really flying and ralph lauren pas cher, the fuel consumption In fact, the noise of the flight backpack can not be ignored & mdash; & mdash; & mdash; & mdash; & ldquo; one gallon of oil can only fly about 400 meters &
For the above reasons, Taylor and his team think that "despite the invention is very cool, but we have to give it" rdquo ;.
Google X Labs has always liked to use the extreme solutions in science fiction to design products, but obviously they can not find a better "extreme program" to save the flight backpack.
Capital is more popular with flying cars
Interestingly, when Google turned off the flight backpack project, they are in another aircraft project to invest heavily.
Specifically, the money is not invested in Google, but Google parent company Alphabet CEO Larry & middot; Page, in recent years, he ho throw hundreds of millions, has invested two flight car start-ups.
In 2010, Paige invested in Zee Aero, the company developed a veritable "flying car" and mdash; both on the road Mercedes-Benz, but also vertical takeoff and landing:
However, since the release of two prototype, Zee Aero even more silence, but not its small "Young" Kitty Hawk active.
The Kitty Hawk, founded in 2015, is very different from ZeeAero in research and development, and their products are more like the fusion of motorboats and small aircraft.
According to foreign media, this flyer named Flyer rely on eight electric propeller propeller to fly, which is and Martin flight bag flight principles are somewhat similar.
However, from the company's official website to show the video point of view, Flyer both modeling and noise are comparable to motor boats; its data performance is not really good: Flyer's longest flight time is only 20 minutes, the speed of 25 miles / hour , Equivalent to 40 kilometers per hour, which is slower than the two flight backpack described above.
However, in the development progress, those flying backpack company than Kitty Hawk, according to the company's official website information, Kitty Hawk plans to officially open the end of this year, this "flying motorboat" and there is no bounce The signs.
In addition to Google's Paige, Uber is also obsessed with the flying car. Uber is even ready to operate a flying car as a taxi.
In April this year, the taxi company said they will be in 2020 in Dubai and the Dallas - Fort Worth area launched a flying vehicle, these "car" speed of up to 240 km per hour.
But want to do "fly" and the business is not just Uber. German company Lilium's vertical takeoff and landing aircraft just last year to achieve the concept of flying. They also developed the APP, as is to become a "air Uber" and "
And from all aspects of numerical point of view, Lilium is also a lot of small flight equipment performance of the most eye-catching:
Speed of 306km / h, which is equivalent to the speed of high-speed rail; maximum load is 181kg, life time of 1 hour, can continue to fly 300 km.
It is also possible that beautiful data attracts the attention of capital. Earlier this month, Lilium successfully completed the 90 million US dollars of the B round of financing, and the leader was Tencent, which seems to suggest that the latter on the "fly" and the industry quite interesting.
Tencent investment on the details of Lilium, you can review the next tiger smell the previous reports: "Ma's car dream, Ma's car dream"
Flying backpack vs flight car, who is more reliable?
Said so much, compared to flying backpack, capital is obviously more popular with flying cars. What is the reason?
The first is fuel. Jet fuel is very heavy and expensive, while energy consumption is still very serious, if a gallon of oil can only fly 400 meters, then this cost is indeed prohibitive.
But if you give up the use of jet fuel, similar to the Martin backpack dual-tube fan design, will increase the size of the backpack, and jet backpack light and flexible demands completely contrary
In this regard, & ldquo; flying car & rdquo; has a clear advantage. Products including Kitty Hawk, Lilium and Volocopter are electric drives.
Although they have to worry about the battery life problems, but do not have to face the high fuel consumption for them is definitely a relief.
Followed by pilots / pilots. Flying backpack on the pilots of all aspects of high quality requirements, the major flying backpack brand in the product testing will choose active pilots or veterans to carry out. Martin's first flight in China, the test pilot is served in the Air Force for 13 years veterans.
In contrast, the requirements of the flying car to the driver is not so high. Kitty Hawk said in a high profile that the pilot who drove his family did not need a flight license and that hours of training would allow ordinary people to master driving skills.
The third is security. While both Martin and JetPack have stressed that their products are safe. But now the technology does not make the public at ease.
Last April, JetPack executives Nick & Middot; Ma Kangbo suffered a risk in a test flight. As the equipment suddenly out of control, he fell from the 6-meter-high air, head landing, chin fracture. Although he did not suffer from life, but the accident is enough to make the majority of potential customers playing back.
In fact, in a sense, the security problem may be difficult to break the bottleneck of the flight backpack. As the equipment is small, can accommodate the relative lack of equipment, coupled with the human body directly exposed to the flight, the flight backpack natural high-risk properties.
But the flying car is not the same. As a kind of aircraft, flying vehicles in the body design can accommodate more safety devices.
For example, the German Volvo Volco aircraft in the event of a sudden failure, you can emergency start, including spare batteries, rotors and many other fault protection measures. Even if the worst case occurred, the number of parachutes on the machine will automatically open to prevent the body crash.
Lilium's design is more overbearing, and any failure of any component of the aircraft will not affect the normal vertical landing; in flight, any unsafe instructions of the pilot will be rejected by the flight protection system & mdash; almost most of the insecurity Are shielded out.
Finally, the use of efficiency. This is nothing more to say, "single multi-guest" operating mode of natural than "single single" and the efficiency is much higher; & ldquo; flight taxi & rdquo; operating mode than investment backpack more There is profit space.
In summary, from the development trend, the flight backpack does not fly the car to the future.
But this does not mean that the era of flying cars coming soon. After all, when the vast majority of the flight vehicle life can not reach 1 hour, you can hardly expect "flying in the air" can be widely used.
In addition, the cost problem is difficult to avoid. Although Uber has been claiming to control the unit price of a flying taxi at $ 20, but the reality is that they are in New York to provide the "Taxi Shuttle Service" priced at $ 1,750. Expensive fare behind the natural inseparable from the high production and operating costs. And if you really want to reduce costs, the aviation industry at least 5-10 years of development.
The last question, JetPack Aviation, only wants $ 1 million. But why Boeing would rather spend $ 2 million to "folk scientists", but do not want to come up with half of them to JetPack?
"I think Boeing did not intend to invest heavily in the development of small flight devices, there is no market. Boeing is just a passion for people to explore. We need more young people to become engineers in the field of aviation, scientists, rather than let them have problems to find Google. "said the American Helicopter Association, the co-organizer of the contest, Mike & middot; Hillsborough said.