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VW Unveils Hover Car Design: VIDEO


Volkswagen in China today announced the winner of its year-long The People's Car Project contest: a student named Wang Jia who turned in the design for an hypothetical auto that uses magnets to "hover" above the ground.

Scientific American walks us through how it works:

The imaginary car stays aloft with the aid of magnetic levitation, much the way some maglev trains travel along special rails using electromagnetic suspension. (Other maglev trains use electromagnetic forces for propulsion without actually lifting the train off the ground.) The Shanghai Maglev Train has been ferrying passengers since 2004 on a 30-kilometer line between Pudong International Airport and the city’s outskirts at speeds of up to 430 kilometers per hour. Magnets on board and in the track lift the train between eight and 12 millimeters, depending on how much electrical current is used.

What keeps maglev vehicles from gaining widespread use is the need to set up an infrastructure of electromagnetic rails and roads. In their video, Volkswagen designers envision a scenario where magnetic iron rock or ore [underground] help create the car’s levitation; alternatively, the minerals could be mined and mixed in with the tarmac.

Using a small model of the car, VW created a video of Jia's parents "driving" the hovercraft around their hometown, Chengdu. Though such a creation would not be available for years — or, possibly, ever — it's always nice to dream, and brings us one step closer to flying cars.

Watch the video AFTER THE JUMP...

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  1. What the F is that? Stupid. Why not just ride around in giant egg. Looks like a nerd-mobile.

    Posted by: Alan | Jun 21, 2012 3:40:09 PM

  2. Don't be a Debbie Downer, Alan. That car is totally rockstar. I wonder what it runs on, though. Hopefully energy efficient/green fuel or electricity.

    Posted by: Graphicjack | Jun 21, 2012 4:17:33 PM

  3. Inducing a magnetic field strong enough to levitate a vehicle off the ground that high, while relying only on the natural iron in the rock underneath, is scientifically absurd on a number of levels.

    It's energetically inefficient and functionally unnecessary--the whole point of maglev is to reduce frictional forces to permit high speed transit. You don't need a small, relatively slow-moving passenger vehicle to levitate unless you want to exploit altitude--i.e., a true flying car which reduces traffic congestion by being able to make use of the space above the street.

    Making excuses like "oh, in the future, we'll invent technology to make it happen," fails to consider the basic physical principles that govern what is or is not reasonable.

    Posted by: atomic | Jun 21, 2012 4:24:38 PM

  4. Cool, but fake.

    Posted by: Jeffrey in St. Louis | Jun 21, 2012 4:29:18 PM

  5. The SA article hints that this isn't a real video but doesn't come rights out and say it. It looks fake to me. This is an interesting concept, however.

    Posted by: Charlie | Jun 21, 2012 4:32:51 PM

  6. cool dream

    Posted by: say what | Jun 21, 2012 4:33:27 PM

  7. The design is real, the actual car and video are fake.

    Posted by: Gregoire | Jun 21, 2012 4:35:37 PM

  8. Atomic hit this on the head. I really hope towleroad steers clear of presenting Sci Fi like its 4 years to market. This car is totally possible, but the cost and engineering would be prohibitive. We might do better installing vacuum tubes over all the cities and letting people travel by capsule a la Aperture Science. It might be cheaper to buy a vehicle with jet engines that lets us lift off like harriers. There's just no sense in this article. Its not like its presented as an implausible idea designed to promote wonder...

    Posted by: NOSH | Jun 21, 2012 4:39:18 PM

  9. I want to die in one of those, order me 5 !

    Posted by: Mark | Jun 21, 2012 4:49:44 PM

  10. Hey why not mine it from the seabeds!

    Posted by: LOrion | Jun 21, 2012 5:05:06 PM

  11. The snippet is incorrect about having to use electromagnets, there is much better maglev technology that incorporates passive magnets called "Inductrack," out of Lawrence Livermore National Lab, which has been proposed for an actually workable concept called SkyTran. @Atomic was right about not wanting slow, but small is good! That's what I tell my dates, anyhow.

    Posted by: NPH-DHP | Jun 21, 2012 6:18:46 PM

  12. adorable...but for myself where we live 30 minutes from the nearest grocery store - there appears no room for groceries or any shopping that might be done. Nor space for luggage.

    We'll stick to the basic FORD.

    Posted by: anthony | Jun 22, 2012 12:23:43 AM

  13. Really? "The People's Car" why how Natzi of of VW.

    Posted by: Anita Valium | Jun 22, 2012 12:25:05 AM

  14. @Anita, you should visit as often as you visit

    Posted by: Donald | Jun 22, 2012 8:48:52 AM

  15. This came out a couple of months ago. It was a hoax. Looks cool, but it's not real in the least bit.

    Posted by: Bobby | Jun 22, 2012 9:01:18 AM

  16. @Anita, what do you think "Volkswagen" means?

    And as alluded to by another poster, there is no "t" in "Natzi." In German, the letter "Z" is pronounced more like "ts."

    Posted by: Jeffrey in St. Louis | Jun 22, 2012 9:26:45 AM

  17. This is an awesome concept thanks for the post. I hope they keep looking into it and I would be interested to see more on the research done in liverpool.

    Posted by: Eurosport of Wayzata | Jun 26, 2012 5:08:46 PM

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  20. I like this website and it is amazing flying car which you have showed here, a very amazing and interesting technology.

    Posted by: 中古車買取 | Jul 27, 2012 3:33:00 AM

  21. Awesome video,
    The car design is really superb. Thanks for sharing it here with us.

    Posted by: limousine | Aug 28, 2012 6:27:49 AM

  22. How I wish I can meet with volkswagen company because I really have the solution to making this working on a very small prototype of it but it is slow due to lack of funds.....this is very possible...don't doubt just contact me and let me explain to you.
    I am a Mechanical Engineering fresh graduate with special interest in Mechatronics Engineering. this is possible.
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