Toyota has just patented a weird car that transforms into a helicopter, solidifying their position as the mad scientists of the automotive world.
We have AutoGuide to thank for unearthing this truly bizarre patent from Toyota’s Engineering and Manufacturing North America (TEMA) team. They’ve clearly been very hard at work with this zinger of an idea that just might revolutionize the world of personal locomotion.
Or not. You be the judge.
The patent is for a type of flying car where the wheels pull double duty as rotor blades. The whole thing looks a lot like a quadcopter when it’s flying, and the most ludicrous-looking car when it’s not. Or, as the patent describes it, a “dual mode vehicle, wheels for the vehicle and a method of transitioning the vehicle from a land mode to a flight mode.”
Rather than put wheels on the ends of axles like a normal car, they’re placed on several outstretched arms that can twist around a pivot located on the vehicle’s hull. During regular driving those arms are pulled inwards, but during air mode those arms get outstretched so that they’re roughly equidistant.
Here’s where the magic happens: the rotor blades to turn this thing into a helicopter are stored inside the wheels. When it’s time to fly, they extend outward like something out of a James Bond flick.
Each wheel has its own separate motor that’s powered by... something. Toyota isn’t very clear in their patent. It could be battery-powered, gas-powered, hydrogen fuel-cell-powered, or something entirely new. Just so long as it provides enough juice to power the motors while being light enough to fly is good enough for Toyota.
Oh, and on the ground? Steering is done not by physically turning the wheels but by speeding up or slowing down the wheels on either side. Sort of like how a tank moves. Although tanks have metal treads and this thing presumably will have rubber tires.
Or probably not. It’d be hard to reseal rubber tires when sharp rotor blades push through them.
This thing will probably never see the light of day, but with Toyota, you just never know. We might see a weird concept a decade from now based on this patent.