Flying cars, or roadable aircraft if you prefer, are a problematic compromise because things that fly generally need wings or rotors and things that drive generally don't. The iCar laughs at traditional lifting surfaces and just uses its huge wheels instead.
The idea of using round spinning surfaces to generate lift is definitely not a new one; one of the aircraft we wrote about last week, the 921-V, used the same general principle to take off and then crash in 1926. The basic principle is called the Magnus Effect, and it's what makes spinning baseballs curve and spinning cylinders generate lift.
The iCar takes advantage of the Magnus Effect to turn its wheels into wings. On the ground, the iCar is a one seater sports car with four traditional wheels and giant cylindrical hubs. To get airborne, it extends its hubs outward to create a larger lifting surface, the hubcaps on the two front wheels swivel forward to turn into propellers, and the car is ready for takeoff. As it starts to move forward, the cylinder wings spin (driven by electric motors), and they generate enough lift to get the iCar airborne in about 1,500 feet. Once aloft, it has a cruising speed of 200 mph and a range of over 500 miles.
Or at least, all that is how it's supposed to work. Going from a general physical principle to an operating aircraft is a rather big leap, and the iCar, as you have probably figured out by now, is solidly in the
flight of fancy concept stage.
We've got more pics of an updated concept, plus a video, below.