Back To The Future Flying DeLorean

We are always looking for interesting combinations of libraries and good demonstrations of novel systems, we have many useful examples within our libraries demonstrating that. Such as the use of the hydrogen library with VeSyMA, as described in Theo’s blog post about a hydrogen bus model; or lots of different interactions to EPTL or HVAC, as described in Hannah’s blog post.

But sometimes we like to see what can be done that’s slightly outside the realm of normal applications. Partly it’s to see if it can be done, but also it’s to have examples of applications that we can regression test and compare. These can be exceedingly useful for highlighting edge cases and failures when they are used in weird and wonderful ways.

So this week I thought I should create a combination of UAVDynamics and Suspensions by creating a flying car. But what car to choose……..?

The iconic DeLorean from Back To The Future holds a place in many people’s hearts and has caused good examples of the vehicle to sell for over the original asking price. The cult following for Dr. Emmett Brown’s DeLorean is almost as strong as that for the film franchise as a whole. At the end of the first film it was seen transforming from a purely road going vehicle to a flying car, an ability that was held for the rest of the film series.

Unfortunately the technology of how this would work is not available to us at present. So I had to make a couple of creative decisions about the flying mechanisms, where I chose to assume that it was the wheels that were causing the majority of the thrust, once in flying mode, with the rims acting as propellers.

For the underlying vehicle I took the closest approximation to the DeLorean that we have in our Suspensions library, the Roadster Sports, which has a rear mounted engine and rear wheel drive.

I then modified the wheels and hubs to have actuators drive them when in flying mode and add a modified propeller model that would provide thrust and torque from the wheel rotation. To ensure a stable flight the suspension was locked when in flight mode to ensure there was no movement or rotation of the hubs relative to the body.

While some artistic license was taken with the dynamics and control of the vehicle I think this is a good representation of the DeLorean, and would have been of great help to Dr. Emmett Brown in refining and developing the controls on the car.

Unfortunately I didn’t have time to work on the cooling circuit optimisation to handle the 1.21 GW of power required. But if anyone wants help developing their cooling circuit or wants to collaborate to develop the flux capacitor then do please get in touch….

Written by: David Briant – Senior Project Engineer

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