NASA has created a Centennial Challenges series – contests for everyday people to develop new technologies that may offer inspiration for the space agency. The most famous of these is the space elevator challenge, where teams create a solar powered elevator prototype. The one that gets to the top the fastest wins. Others include space gloves and lunar landers. Quest looks at this month’s competition: personal aircraft.

If you’ve ever found yourself stuck in Bay Area traffic, you’ve probably found yourself wishing you could fly right over it. Flying cars are usually the stuff of science fiction, but a group of engineers at NASA is hoping to change that. They’re sponsoring a technology contest to revolutionize small planes – and it’s open to the general public.

With congestion increasing in the Bay Area, many argue we’ll need new innovations to tackle it, including mass transit and personal air vehicles. What do you think the future of transportation should look like? Do you think government agencies like NASA should spend more on research?

You may listen to the “NASA Flying Car Challenge” Radio report online, as well as find additional links and resources.

Lauren Sommer reports for QUEST and Radio News at KQED-FM.

NASA Flying Car Challenge: future or flight of fancy? 12 June,2013Lauren Sommer


Lauren Sommer

Lauren is a radio reporter covering environment, water, and energy for KQED Science. As part of her day job, she has scaled Sierra Nevada peaks, run from charging elephant seals, and desperately tried to get her sea legs - all in pursuit of good radio. Her work has appeared on Marketplace, Living on Earth, Science Friday and NPR's Morning Edition and All Things Considered. You can find her on Twitter at @lesommer.

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