Toyota Patents a Flying Car, But Don't Get Your Hopes Up
Every automaker keeps secrets—cars and projects that haven’t yet seen the light of day. In the case of Toyota, these can include the long-awaited Toyota-BMW sports car or a successor to the Lexus LFA. As you’ll have undoubtedly noted, a flying car is neither of those things, but that’s exactly what the Japanese auto giant has detailed in a recent patent application…specifically its wing. The Toyota patent, published on September 3rd, describes a stackable set of wings mounted atop an “aerocar,” which can be fully lowered when driven on land or raised vertically when operated as a fixed wing aircraft. That may seem like a wild innovation in and of itself, but the details keep coming.
In order to compactly collapse four wings on top of a car, each wing has been designed with an adjustable lower surface made from bistable composite material. When a wing is extended from its road-going position, a mechanism within the wing actuates (Figure 5 and 6), expanding the lower surface in order to gain more lift.
These expanding wings, which span the width of the car body, can then be raised or lowered to various heights depending on the aircraft’s operation. For instance, Figure 3 is said to show a cruising configuration while Figure 2 shows a higher drag landing setup.
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Whereas today’s flying car prototypes, like the Terrafugia Transition, feature upward-folding fixed wings at the vehicle’s side, the Toyota patent notes those to be a hinderance to the driver’s side views and an unnecessary addition of weight and complexity as more wing folds are incorporated.
Toyota didn’t elaborate on how its aerocar would propel itself into the wild blue yonder, though a, "pusher propeller, open rotor, turbofan, or other thrust generation system,” were listed as possibilities.
Expecting a winged Toyota to cruise into dealerships soon? Well, don’t hold your breath. Though it may be exciting to daydream, in all reality the patent likely safeguards Toyota from similar advancements in flying car tech. But hey, you never know…
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