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Douglas Malewicki

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Douglas (or Doug) Malewicki is an American aerospace engineer and inventor of Polish descent. Many of his inventions concern flying vehicles, but the range is quite diverse.[1] He is also the concept creator and inventor of Skytran PRT (Personal Rapid Transit). [2]


Green vehiclesEdit

Douglas spent the past 25 years advancing the Skytran concept: ultra-light computer-controlled cars hanging below aluminum Maglev (magnetic levitation) tracks that could be supported above roads just by utility poles or the sides of buildings. Skytran basically combines maglev (which allows high speeds) and a hanging design (more stable; smaller tracks) with the 1960s idea of Personal Rapid Transit (PRT) -- cars individual commuters take directly to their destination (hence "Personal"), but computer-driven and available to others after they exit (hence "Transit"). Another key PRT idea Skytran follows is exiting the main track for boarding; so the cars behind don't need to wait as they do with mass transit vehicles. [3] His ideas have inspired other variations on PRT, and speculation about the social effects of high-speed computer-controlled transport. [4] [5]

Douglas developed the 157 and 156-miles-per-gallon "California Commuter" cars that hold the Guinness fuel economy records for street-legal vehicles driven at freeway speeds—an example of green vehicles.[6]

He studied and developed various engineering solutions for Highly-aerodynamic Human-powered vehicles such as Recumbent bicycles.[7]

Un-green vehiclesEdit

Douglas developed the following vehicles and rides:

Other inventions and innovationsEdit

Douglas was also involved in the development and invention of the following:

Doug Malewicki designed the Nuclear War card game, and had been selling it independently starting in 1965.[13] Rick Loomis of Flying Buffalo, for whom the game was a casual influence on his own Nuclear Destruction PBM, found that people were confusing the two games, so after some hard work tracking Malewicki down, he added the game to his own catalogue and started publishing Nuclear War through Flying Buffalo in 1972.[13] Expansions included "Nuclear Proliferation", "Nuclear Escalation", and "Weapons of Mass Destruction".

An aeronautical engineer by training,[14][15] Malewicki spent much of his career working for American aeronautics and space companies: the Apollo program moon landing vehicles, the Stealth bomber, and Cessna aircraft including their first private jet airplane. He was a model rocket enthusiast, becoming famous early in his career for the Malewicki Equations that predicted the altitude and coast time of a model rocket flight.

According to Malewicki's daughter, he was the inspiration for the original one eyed monster, called Mike on Peewee's Playhouse TV show, and later to become the inspiration for Mike Wazowski drawn by Ricky Nierva in Monsters, Inc..[16] A copy of the game plans in which he drew the first image of this alien is distributed free.


The anti-PRT page "Skytran: the Smoking Gun of PRT Absurdity" claimed that Malewicki was presenting an "Internet vaporware" concept as a finished product. It cited an early quote on Malewicki's website it claimed showed he had abandoned the concept himself (apparently taken out of context; since he has supported it many times since). It also copied Malewicki's proposal for a track-laying robot as proof the whole idea was insane. (From a controls engineering standpoint, it can be argued that the 40-foot car-chewing mechanical T-rex robot "Robosaurus" Malewicki actually built in 1989, a staple of the auto and airplane show circuits for two decades afterward, exhibited much more sophisticated control than the proposed track laying robot would need.) The "SkytranAbsurd" page also claimed that Malewicki's advancing Skytran was a conflict of interest with his advising at Carbon Angel; since they supported Skytran. [17]

Malewicki has failed many times in his attempts to advance the Skytran concept since he first proposed it in 1990. The name and the entire team have been changed. The current company called Unimodal has made many proposals to transit agencies and cities but has collected very little money (although recent joint development efforts with US NASA and Israel Aerospace Industries appear to be continuing).

The Schweeb human-powered PRT concept and not Skytran was funded by Google. [18]

An attempt by business people to take the Skytran name from Malewicki failed, but Unimodal uses the (probably because it is a transportation network) and websites; it doesn't even own

See alsoEdit

External linksEdit


  1. ^ — Douglas Malewicki's invention Web site
  2. ^ Biography page at CarbonAngel.
  3. ^ About Doug Malewicki and the Skytran concept at including a video interview with him
  4. ^ See Malewicki's bio on the original Skytran website
  5. ^ contains speculation about social and economic effects of transporting people and goods much more freely.
  6. ^ The California Commuter,, accessed March 21, 2011.
  7. ^ Gross, AC, Kyle CR, and Malewicki DJ. The aerodynamics of human-powered land vehicles. Scientific American 249: 142-152, 1983. This article appears in several patents.
  8. ^ Waking up in Reno Trailer [1:49] "So what do you say we sacrifice a new car?"
  9. ^ Skycycle page on See Skycycle X-2 for more details.
  10. ^ About Malewicki and rocket belts Archived October 2, 2011, at the Wayback Machine. on the AmericanRocketmen website. It includes images. This belt was later on the cause for a murder between the stuntmen using it, with the belt disappearing (see Sunday Herald Oct 13, 2002).
  11. ^ Malewicki with Prof. Terry Weisshaar at the DARPA Morphing Aircraft Structures (MAS) conference in San Diego.
  12. ^ World record for the kitecycle on the Winged website and the Malewicki patent from 1978 on Google patents.
  13. ^ a b Shannon Appelcline (2011). Designers & Dragons. Mongoose Publishing. p. 35. ISBN 978-1-907702-58-7. 
  14. ^ BS Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering, University of Illinois, Department of Aerospace Engineering and Sigma Gamma Tau UIUC Archived May 20, 2006, at the Wayback Machine. 1961
  15. ^ MS Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering, Stanford University, 1963
  16. ^ Michelle Malewicki on Mike the monster in Doug's Canosaurus website.
  17. ^ Skytran criticism on the 'Roadkill' website
  18. ^ Schweeb all the way home Archived October 4, 2011, at the Wayback Machine. on CNET.