It’s 2013. Where’s my flying car? Answer: about eight years away.
Terrafugia is a Massachusetts company previously best known for the Transition, which is best described as a plane you can drive. Its wings fold up, meaning pilots can drive it off the runway and straight home. Which is great for pilots, but what about the rest of us?
Now Terrafugia is working on a full-on futuristic flying car, the TF-X, which it expects to start selling in the early 2020s. Think of it as a cross between a Google self-driving car, a helicopter and a plane. The carbon-fiber vehicle takes off vertically, right from your driveway (presuming you have 100 ft of clearance), using electric-powered rotor blades mounted on each side.
Once in the air, the rotor blades drop and a rear-mounted gas engine takes over. In normal weather, the computer lands for you, though you have a parachute as a backup — just in case you encounter any HAL-style situations. Its range: 500 miles.
The concept behind the TF-X is that it puts as much of the process as possible on autopilot; as much as your average commercial jetliner, if not more. “Learning how to safely operate a TF-X vehicle should take an average driver no more than five hours,” the company claims.
How about the cost? Terrafugia isn’t announcing that until it gets closer to production, though it does make this bold claim: “With investment in automotive scale production, early studies indicate that it is possible that the final price point could be on-par with very high-end luxury cars.”
Currently, the company estimates it will start shipping the $270,000 Transition to eager customers in 2015. If they sell well, it will increase the likelihood of the TF-X becoming a reality.
Still, it’s a beautiful concept. Memo to Google: if you’re serious about changing the future of transportation, you could do worse than to snap up this startup.