What do “The Jetsons” and “The Transformers” have in common? DARPA!
The project, dubbed “Transformer (TX),” which USA Today muses is reminiscent of the 1980s cartoon where robots morphed into vehicles and saved the day, will:
Demonstrate a 1 to 4 person transportation vehicle that can drive and fly, thus enabling the warfighter to avoid water, difficult terrain, and road obstructions as well as IED and ambush threats. The vehicle will be capable of driving on prepared surface and light off-road conditions, while flight functionality will require Vertical Takeoff and Landing (VTOL). In addition, range and speed efficiencies will allow for tactically relevant missions to be performed on a single tank of fuel.”
The Federal Business Opportunities notice about an upcoming “proposer’s day” workshop goes on to explain:
The ability to provide the warfighter a platform that enables terrain-independent mobility would significantly affect how distributed operations are performed today. Current transport systems present operational limitations where the warfighter is either anchored to the ground … and thus vulnerable to ambush, or reliant on helicopters, which are limited in flight speed and availability. TX provides the flexibility to adapt to traditional and asymmetric threats by providing the operator unimpeded movement over difficult terrain. In addition, transportation is no longer restricted to trafficable terrain that tends to makes movement predictable. This enables the warfighter to approach targets from directions opportune to them and not the enemy.”
No word yet on whether Spacely Space Sprockets or Cogswell Cogs will bid on the project.