Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Sinclair dreams of 'flying cars'

Sinclair dreams of 'flying cars'

Sir Clive in 1985, on the appeal of the C5

Personal flying machines will be a reality, home computer and electric car pioneer Sir Clive Sinclair has said. He told BBC Radio 4's PM programme that soon it would be "economically and technically possible" to create flying cars for individuals.

Sir Clive is best-known for the Spectrum computer and his failed electric car effort, the C5. "I'm sure it will happen and I am sure it will change the world dramatically," he predicted.

Despite his pioneering work in the field of computers, Sir Clive told BBC Radio 4 he was not an internet user. "I don't use it myself directly," he said, explaining that as an inventor he tried to avoid "mechanical and technical things around me so they don't blur the mind".

Sir Clive Sinclair talks about flying car

He said the internet was "just wonderful and quite amazing" and its growth was not something he had predicted back in the 1980s. "It has totally surprised me. I utterly failed to foresee that."

The celebrated inventor is not working on developing flying car technology currently but said he would "love to be involved" with any effort. As a pioneer in personal transport, he said "flying cars were technically entirely possible".

"It would need to be automatically controlled because we can't all learn to fly.

"The vehicle would take off from your home and fly to wherever you want to go."

Sir Clive said personal flying machines would have to be electric powered, because petrol engines were not reliable enough.

Clive Sinclair holding one of his firms products - a TV set which can receive up to 13 channels on a two-inch screen. For a programme in the BBC World Service series, 'The Young Idea', Gordon Snell (Sir Clive pioneered many electronics fields - including portable TVs)

But, he admitted, his 1980s venture into electric cars "didn't achieve the success I expected". He said: "We did sell quite a few thousand. Looking back I can see why [we didn't have success].

"It was a bit daunting to go into traffic." The rising cost of oil, combined with environmental concerns, have made alternative-energy powered cars a goal once more. "Long before the C5, and ever since, I have strongly believed in electric vehicles. I am glad to say it's all happening at long last."

Sir Clive produced an electric powered bicycle, called the Zike, in 1992, but it too failed to capture the public's imagination. His latest project is the A-Bike, a lightweight, foldable bicycle. But, he said, he still harboured hopes of returning to the electric car field. "The thing is - to do an electric car is obviously a huge investment. I'd need huge success in the electric bike field," he said.

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