• Question: is it possible to build an hovering car that runs on something other than fuel or electricity?

    Asked by lil_remz to Sarah, Masha, Mark on 17 Nov 2016.
    • Photo: Mark Catherall

      Mark Catherall answered on 17 Nov 2016:

      Depends what you mean by ‘fuel’.

      The fundamental problem of hovering is that you need to constantly exert an upward force on the car to stop it from falling. To exert a force without contact (i.e., no tyres touching the ground etc.) you need some physics that acts at a distance, such as magnetism, gravity, or radiation, or you need to shove a load of air downwards to get a reaction in the upwards direction. So, magnets would be one way of achieving the hovering without energy input, but you’d need magnets laid along everywhere you wanted to go as well. Trains in Japan work like that. Gravity would require a mass similar to that of the Earth but above the car – this isn’t really solving the problem so much as making it much much harder. Radiation would require a SHEDLOAD of energy to kick out enough to float a car. The shoving air downwards approach is how hovercraft and drones and helicopters work – but as you know they all require accelerating the air, and therefore require energy from something.

    • Photo: Sarah Hunt

      Sarah Hunt answered on 17 Nov 2016:

      This isn’t a hovering car, but your idea is being looked at by some of the biggest tyre manufacturers in the world 🙂