Hovercars are a type of planetary vehicle that utilize a variety of technologies to float gently above the surface. They are most common in well-off areas of New Eden, such as within the core worlds of the Gallente Federation or among the Amarr nobility, but are also found throughout the cluster. Because they do not directly touch the ground, they are capable of smooth travel over a variety of terrains.
Hover vehicles have been in existence for centuries. The simplest vehicles utilize a cushion of slow-moving, high-pressure air which is ejected against the surface below and contained beneath a skirt. These vehicles are typically driven by large fans, or impellers, which provide the air cushion, and additional engines which provide forward thrust. These hovercraft had a variety of applications, typically as transports and emergency vehicles over unfavorable terrain.
However, these air-cushioned hovercraft were generally more difficult to steer, much louder, and more costly than traditional wheeled transports, limiting their use to enthusiasts and specialized fields. It was not until the development of additional hover technologies that hovercars became feasible as a primary personal transportation device.
The first great breakthrough was the creation of magnetic levitation that did not require extensive rail systems. While maglev technology had been in use for decades for mass transit, the reliance on rails to provide suspension made it unfeasible for personal use. However, with the development of self-contained maglev technology, personal hovercars became a reality. These early hovercars had high energy requirements, but possessed tight controls, were reliable, and delivered exceedingly smooth rides.
The discovery of gravity-manipulation introduced an additional method of propulsion and suspension, but did not change the overall design of hovercars by much. It was, however, somewhat safer than maglev hovercars, as they utilized no charged electromagnetic lifters, eliminating the risk of fatal shocks. Regardless, most modern hovercars continue to utilize maglev technology, as it has been developed to such an extent that the safety risks are barely relevant.
Hovercars have a variety of body designs, though the most popular look very similar to wheelless automobiles. Popular variations include separate compartments for passengers and drivers, extra cargo space, or bodies stylized to look similar to planes or even models of spaceship.
The lifters typically sit beneath the body, regardless of if the design is maglev or anti-gravity. These lifters produce repulsive force with the ground, lifting the vehicle a set height off the ground. The height is typically about a half-meter, which is enough to clear most obstacles while enabling passengers to enter and exit while the vehicle is still in operation. The levitation height can be adjusted, though local restrictions usually restrict vehicles from legally flying too high or too low. Additionally, most civilian vehicles do not possess the power output to hover more than a few meters off the ground.
When deactivated, hovercars possess safety devices that slowly lower them to the ground. Once touched down, hovercars utilize some sort of suspension device to keep the lifters and undercarriage from scraping the ground. Some utilize retractable legs, while others come equipped with bumpers made of rubber or some other rugged padding.
Some hovercars are hybrid models, equipped with wheels or treads that can retract when the vehicle is levitating. These hybrids are not common, as the wheels rarely offer any advantage over the lifters. Most typically, they are used by wheeled-vehicle enthusiasts who wish to retain the advantages of lifters, or criminals who wish to retain operation of their vehicles when magnetic or gravimetric disruptors are deployed.