The Revolutionary Vehicle System
NASA Revolutionary Vehicle Systems Concept Student Competition-- the OU Aeromobile
The aviation industry and the general transportation industry are facing great challenges at the dawn of the 21st Century--the "hub-lock" and the "gridlock." While the aviation has gone a long way since the Wright Brothers first powered flight, the sky remains beyond the reach by the general public as a mode of personal transportation and recreation. To answer these urgent challenges, an Aeromobile and 3-Dimensional Interstate Highway Transportation System concept was proposed by two OU student teams in the 2002 NASA General Aviation Student Design Competition, which won two Honorable Mentions. That concept consists of two major components: (1) the aeromobile vehicle that has satisfactory road handling qualities and ride comfort as a highway vehicle, and that is meanwhile a vertical-takeoff and landing (VTOL), wingless (lifting-body) aircraft with automated flight operation, navigation and communication system providing safe and comfort flying experience; and (2) the 3D highway transportation infrastructure that provides intelligent and integrated roadways, airways and intersections of such, 3D traffic management, control, navigation and signaling, services and conveniences, emergency handling, and law enforcement patrol. It appears that the viability of that concept hinges mainly on the feasibility of the envisioned VTOL, wingless aeromobile vehicle.
This year, an OU team of some 20 undergraduate and graduate students from the School of EECS and ME Department entered the NASA Revolutionary Vehicle System Concept Student Competition with a radio-controlled, quarter-scale aeromobile model as a concept demonstrator and technology pathfinder. While this first incarnation of the aeromobile is only based on currently available technology as a conventionally takeoff and landing (CTOL) aircraft, it does include many technological innovations such as the skateboard chassis, drive-by-wire car concept.
Research focus for this stage is on the maximal dual use of system components. This is a first baby step towards realizing the almost century-long dream of the flying car based on our guiding philosophy--"Revolutionary Concept, Evolutionary Approach." Optimal design of the lifting-body fuselage and high-lift wings, passive and active lift augmentation devices will be developed later to gradually reduce the size of the wings and eventually eliminate them. Novel powered lift techniques will be developed for future incarnations of the Pegasus to enable VTOL/STOVL capability.
We gratefully acknowledge Mr. and Ms. Stocker for their generous Stocker Fund given to the Russ College of Engineering and Technology which enabled this challenging and inspiring research and student design project. The development of an active flow lift augmentation technology for future incarnations of the aeromobile is supported by the OU 1804 Fund. The prototype vehicle model and technology developed with these seed funding will enable us to solicit funding from federal agencies such as NASA, DOD, and the aerospace and automobile industry.