After successfully testing their first flying vehicle, Massachusetts-based startup Terrafugia just unveiled plans for the world's first hybrid-electric flying car! The semi-autonomous flying car is small enough to fit in any single garage, and drivers will be able to take the four-seater vehicle for an easy cruise down the road or an exhilarating sky drive. Take-off and landing will be powered by electric motors that provide quiet and clean lift off, while long-range flights will rely on a gas turbine for power. Designed to exceed current aviation safety regulations, the self-driving TF-X flying car is expected to have a 500 mile range.
Founded by MIT graduates in 2006, Terrafugia has recently tested their first flying car – the Transition. A sleek vehicle with fold-up wings, it has two seats and a loud engine. The company has over one hundred pre-orders for the craft, which will cost $279,000, according to Xconomy. In addition to the improved hybrid engine system, the TF-X will be faster, heavier, and roomier, and rotor blades on each wing tip will assist take off and landing and fold away during flight.
In order to lift off, the TF-X needs an open space with at least 100 foot in diameter, so people won’t be able to hit the skies straight from their driveways, but as Xconomy puts it, it will be easier than getting to landing strips – particularly if cities and parks begin to set aside space for just that reason. That being said, Terrafugia has many obstacles to overcome and are realistic about the challenges. Not only do they need some serious capital, but they will be required to develop the technology necessary to make this flying craft as safe as possible.
The semi autonomous vehicle should be able to avoid air traffic and bad weather, land in an emergency when the operator becomes unresponsive, land in non-approved zones in an emergency, which would be instantly communicated to air traffic controllers, and it should come with a full vehicle parachute system.
“It’s an eight-to-10-year process,” co-founder and CEO Carl Dietrich told Xconomy, “but we believe it’s possible to increase the level of safety while simultaneously making it easier to operate an aircraft.” Buckle up. The future is here.