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Terrafugia has used Ansys engineering simulation software to design and verify its commercial ‘flying car’, which will be used on highways and runways when it is rolled out next year.

A prototype of the Transition aircraft was unveiled yesterday at the EAA Airventure air show.

Terrafugia engineers conducted whole-vehicle airflow tests that assessed the effects of design changes on overall performance – working in parallel across the various Transition components.

The simulations were used to maximise wing lift in the air and to minimise the effects of crosswinds along the road.

Gregor Cadman, an engineer at Terrafugia, said: ‘The Transition’s test flights identified some important engineering issues that Ansys fluid dynamics software helped us to address in the production prototype.

‘Our latest design improves both the in-air and on-road performance of the Transition, as well as ensuring that the vehicle lends itself to full-scale manufacturing.

‘Simulation software from Ansys played a central role in these engineering efforts.

‘Without the ability to work in a virtual environment, we would have had to construct complicated physical models, modify or rebuild them and conduct hours of real-world testing, slowing down the process and adding to development costs,’ he added.

The Transition vehicle combines a lightweight, aerodynamic aircraft with the stability needed for long-distance driving on the highway.

The vehicle can cruise at up to 490 miles at more than 105mph (170kph), can drive at highway speeds on the road and is capable of transforming from a plane to car in less than 30 seconds.

The sophisticated design features foldable wings that span more than 26ft (8m), a rear-wheel-drive system for the road and a propeller for flight.

The Transition proof-of-concept vehicle completed a 60-second test flight in March 2009.

Massachusetts-based Terrafugia expects to begin commercial production of the vehicle in 2011.

Working closely with Ansys product specialists, the Terrafugia engineering team also studied the impact of the Transition’s propeller on air flows around the vehicle.

As the project developed over time, engineers applied simulation tools to study ever-smaller and more precise design modifications.

Greg Stuckert, aerospace industry manager at Ansys, said: ‘The dual challenges of driving and flying present significant challenges for aeronautical engineers.

‘Terrafugia’s use of engineering simulation to fine-tune designs throughout the development process – not just at the end for verification – contributed to an optimised historic vehicle and an efficient product launch,’ he added.

Ansys software used to design ‘flying car’

Terrafugia has used Ansys engineering simulation software to design and verify its commercial ‘flying car’, which will be used on highways and runways when it is rolled out next year.

A prototype of the Transition aircraft was unveiled yesterday at the EAA Airventure air show.

Terrafugia engineers conducted whole-vehicle airflow tests that assessed the effects of design changes on overall performance – working in parallel across the various Transition components.

The simulations were used to maximise wing lift in the air and to minimise the effects of crosswinds along the road.

Gregor Cadman, an engineer at Terrafugia, said: ‘The Transition’s test flights identified some important engineering issues that Ansys fluid dynamics software helped us to address in the production prototype.

‘Our latest design improves both the in-air and on-road performance of the Transition, as well as ensuring that the vehicle lends itself to full-scale manufacturing.

‘Simulation software from Ansys played a central role in these engineering efforts.

‘Without the ability to work in a virtual environment, we would have had to construct complicated physical models, modify or rebuild them and conduct hours of real-world testing, slowing down the process and adding to development costs,’ he added.

The Transition vehicle combines a lightweight, aerodynamic aircraft with the stability needed for long-distance driving on the highway.

The vehicle can cruise at up to 490 miles at more than 105mph (170kph), can drive at highway speeds on the road and is capable of transforming from a plane to car in less than 30 seconds.

The sophisticated design features foldable wings that span more than 26ft (8m), a rear-wheel-drive system for the road and a propeller for flight.

The Transition proof-of-concept vehicle completed a 60-second test flight in March 2009.

Massachusetts-based Terrafugia expects to begin commercial production of the vehicle in 2011.

Working closely with Ansys product specialists, the Terrafugia engineering team also studied the impact of the Transition’s propeller on air flows around the vehicle.

As the project developed over time, engineers applied simulation tools to study ever-smaller and more precise design modifications.

Greg Stuckert, aerospace industry manager at Ansys, said: ‘The dual challenges of driving and flying present significant challenges for aeronautical engineers.

‘Terrafugia’s use of engineering simulation to fine-tune designs throughout the development process – not just at the end for verification – contributed to an optimised historic vehicle and an efficient product launch,’ he added.

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