We all remember Thunderbirds, Captain Scarlet and the likes of Joe 90, but even more so the motors that they all had, and lets be honest, we all wanted one when we grew up too.
Well we found a company that’s pretty much got there with the design and testing of something pretty special, straight from the mind of uncle Gerry Anderson.
Advance Tactics, a small US design company, have developed a vertical take off and landing 4×4 with an all terrain independent suspension system that will knock along at 70 mph or 130 kts airborne.
The AT Black Knight Transformer as it is currently known has been in development since 2010 by AT for the US military special ops & transportation projects, it is now a fully patented design. Don’t be put off by it’s square look and ugly face as the new aerodynamic body panels are yet to be fitted to these prototypes.
There are two versions of the vehicle, the larger (as pictured) is the Black Knight which is around the size of a large van, the second version is for just a two man and gear unit called the AT Panther with an approximate size of a family car.
The prototypes pictured have completed driving and flying testing standards and are now undergoing light armour and body panel fit-outs.
The vehicle drives with the flight prop and engine booms shut down and folded along side the body, which makes the transformer road size legal. All Wheel Drive is provided by an internal engine, through an automatic transmission trans axle-system, the rough terrain negotiation has been a priority for the military just as much as flight capability. With the added option to remove the car going hull and replaced with that of a boat hull the unit is ideally suited for amphibious activities.
The Black Knight and Panther Transformers both utilize the AT Transformer technology, which leverages the simplicity and robustness of a “multi-copter” helicopter at a full-scale size. Like the small electric drone-copters that are prevalent today, the AT Transformer uses engines with a direct drive connection to prop-rotors. The components of the propulsion system, including the engines and prop-rotors, are low-cost commercially available parts and the aircraft’s structure is made of modular field-replaceable components. Like an electric drone-copter, the vehicle is stabilized and controlled by the differential thrust between the opposing sets of propellers, this configuration removes the need for a tail-rotor or engine transmission. The AT Transformer also has the ability to perform controlled engine-out flight in case of a major engine failure.
Although under construction for the military, AT are saying the Black Knight vehicle may be available for civilian Rescue and Emergency services for medi-vac, air-drop support and fire fighting operations.
We could do with one for rush hour avoidance …