At the close of November, DARPA announced its selection of a team of six vendors to participate effort of its $65M program launched to develop the Transformer - a four-person, flyable and roadable vehicle. Terrafugia, Inc., developer of the Transition® Roadable Aircraft, or “Flying Car”, is the largest subcontractor to one of two winning teams selected to participate in Phase I of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) 'Transformer' (TX) program - tasked with transitioning the Transformer vehicle from concept into an operable reality.
Led by AAI Corporation and comprised of other Textron companies, the winning team also includes fellow Textron businesses Bell Helicopter and Textron Marine & Land Systems, as well as Carter Aviation Technologies LLC, Terrafugia, Inc. and the U. S. Army Research Laboratory - Vehicle Technology Directorate...AAI Corporation and Lockheed Martin Company, prime system integrators; Carnegie Mellon University and Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne, developers of critical enabling technology; and Aurora Flight Sciences partnered with ThinGap, and Metis Design Corp, Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) recipients.
Terrafugia has received recent recognition on the basis of its primary business, the Transition® Light Sport Aircraft Program. After a successful series of initial progressions, the Transition, a two-seater personal craft, moves forward on schedule from detailed design to fabrication, testing and production in the second half of 2011. Terrafugia (terra-FOO-gee-ah), based in Woburn, MA, is comprised of a team of award-winning engineers who have been advancing the state of personal aircraft since 2006. Terrafugia’s mission is the innovative expansion of personal mobility. Taken from ancient Latin, the name "Terrafugia" translates to "escape from land".
The TX program represents an opportunity for Terrafugia's engineering team to bring its trade studies, and experience, in the exploration and development of dual-purpose combined flying/driving vehicles to the valuable defense project.
Transformer Program Parameters:
The TX program aims to develop a robust ground vehicle that can transform into an air vehicle with 'vertical take-off and landing' (VTOL) capability to increase access to difficult terrain... while offering significant added operational flexibility. It is envisioned that guidance and flight-control systems will allow for semi-autonomous flight, to enable operation by non-pilots....realization of the craft is aimed at achieving an unprecedented capability for the guidance, navigation and control of the 'TX' to be conducted without requiring a dedicated pilot, providing a key advantage in carrying out its intended mission-types.
Intended missions include medical evacuation, avoidance of improvised explosive devices, remote resupply, and Special Forces insertion. I Such a success would permit a nonpilot to performance of such tasks as...The capabilities for improved resupply operations, fire-team insertion and extraction, and reduced time for medical evacuation - increasing probability of survival for personnel.
DARPA specs call for ability to efficiently travel 250 nautical miles on land and in the air, or any combination, while carrying up to 1,000 pounds. This payload requirement represents up to four Warfighters and their equipment, including a critical medical evacuation capability. At present, today’s deployed Warfighter relies upon either the 'highly mobile multipurpose wheeled vehicles' (HMMWV), or helicopters, which are limited by availability, are used.
DARPA’s 'Transformer' (TX) program seeks to combine the advantages of ground vehicles and helicopters into a single vehicle, equipped with flexibility of movement. Its concept is to attain extremely enhanced mobility, The objective being to provide field soldiers/combat troops with options to avoid traditional and asymmetrical threats, while avoiding road obstructions. With this type technology, transportation will no longer be restricted to trafficable terrain that tends to make movement predictable.