The revolutionary winged helicopter the X3 Hybrid Helicraft has just been unveiled by European company Eurocopter.
It combines the advantages of fixed-wing planes with the hovering abilities of a standard helicopter. In technical terms, the stability of the base of a helicopter's rotor is threatened when rotor tips approach supersonic speeds. By placing two main rotors on top of the cabin, engineers have neutralised the spinning force and air speed problems.
The X3 has been a closely guarded secret and under development since January 2008. It was first flown on September 6 at a military test base in France, testing is continuing with more flights due in March 2011. It can fly at sustained speeds of 400km/h, and the company is also aiming to break the sound barrier.
The idea of the 'hovercraft' is to hover above the ground through a vertical wind jet of constant air pressure and at the same time, be propelled by a static wind thrust from a propeller.
The idea has been well developed with the most innovative technology. The world's largest passenger hovercraft carries 418 paying customers and the US Navy has huge barge like hovercraft vessels for conveying equipment.
There are various sizes, from huge ferry hovercraft to small runabout amphibious hovercraft. They are already available to suit every person's needs from farming to adventure tourism.
However, the family-sized 'hover car' to date is only part of 'science fiction', as described in films or television series such as Blade Runner and Back to the Future Part II, the Wipeout series and many others.
The mere fact that it is in science fiction bodes well for the rest of us, because much of what was once science fiction, is today reality. The 'machines' imagined by Jules Verne are legendary, as his imagination was way ahead of his own time and it is only 50-100 years later that we started to see the practicality and wisdom of his 'science fiction' inventions.
The questions, apart from the technology, is what advantages might a 'hover car' exhibit?
For some, car parking dramas would become a thing of the past. None of this going forward and reversing back several times. It would a case of coming along side the car parking space, and then horizontally sliding into it. Over many years, this would save a lot of fuel (and thus pollution), and will also save on the rubber materials of the tyres.
Many an accident may be avoided. How many times has a car slid off the bitumen onto the gravel and come a cropper? For the hover-car, its not a problem, as there is no friction between the car and the road.
I am sure all readers can come up with many more advantages with a hover-car.
Finally, I would like to add that it would be an ideal mode of transport for Ministers and Missionaries. Rural clergy wouldn't need to open farm gates when visiting their farming communities, they would simply glide over them.
Imagine missionaries not having to cross dangerous rivers nor take the rope walkway across those monstrous gorges. All they would need to do in preparing to visit their parishioners would be to ensure their bibles were securely tied down on the passenger's seat.