Photo credit: Popular Science

We are totally nerd-ing out right now over a new DARPA project. The Department of Defense’s research branch wants to merge the best elements of a plane, electric vehicle and Optimus Prime to create a flying car for the military. If researchers are successful, the world could see an airborne prototype of the seriously souped-up (and green!) flying car by 2015.

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One of the coolest parts about the vehicle built under the Transformer TX program is that it employs green elements. Designers want the flying car to be able to travel 250 miles before it needs to rely on gas. To that end, researchers will likely incorporate a hybrid-electric drive engine, adaptive wing structures or ducted tilt-rotor fans.

Because it would be used by the military, scientists want the vehicle to handle like a rugged, off-road SUV while on the ground but navigate like a sleek, single-engine aircraft when it cruises up to 10,000 feet. In its current design, the flying car would be able to hold four, fully-equipped troops or a stretcher and one medic. The car would also be able to carry out unmanned operations.

DARPA‘s flying car is still in its very early stages of design, so we’ll have to wait a few years to see if the agency’s lofty goals are realized. With a $43 million budget, we’re sure the vehicle will be as innovative as possible.

Via Popular Science