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Terrafugia: Taking Travel to Land or Air

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By Jody McCutcheon

Here’s a cool way to beat traffic and still park your vehicle in your own garage: fly to work!

The Terrafugia TF-X™ flying car is still just a concept, but what a fantastic, pulse-raising concept it is. Bridging the gap between today and tomorrow, the TF-X™ recently featured in a documentary on Back To The Future, the popular film that basically delivered the dream of flying cars into common parlance.

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The Terrafugia company was born in 2006, and its Transition® flying car idea started in 2009. Approaching the light of production, the Transition® is sort of a clunky TF-X™ prototype—but you need to crawl before you can fly, right?

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Initialized in 2013 and currently navigating the Research and Development stages, the TF-X™ has been envisioned as a four-seat, vertical takeoff and landing, semi-autonomous flying car that also can legally be driven on roads and highways. It will have a range of about 800km and a cruise speed of 320km per hour, with manual or automatic flight control modes. It’s also a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle that fits in a standard single-car garage. Theoretically the TF-X™ can recharge its battery from its own engine or by plugging into an electric car charging station.

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This isn’t some half-baked, haphazard idea, either. Built-in safety features include programming for automatic avoidance of other air traffic, bad weather and restricted and tower-controlled air space, plus a back-up, full parachute system for use if the operator believes the vehicle is incapable of auto-landing.

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Another plus (or minus, depending on your POV) is that despite the plane-like propellers that make this fly, a traditional pilot’s license isn’t required to operate the TF-X™. Since the vehicle’s flight controls will be similar to those of a car, the only requirement is an operator certificate, which takes much less time to obtain than a pilot’s license. Other requirements will be determined in consultation with relevant regulatory bodies as the production reality draws closer. In terms of regulation and certification standards, the TF-X™ is something of a trailblazer, since nothing like it currently exists.

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Ideally, production will begin in eight to twelve years. According to Terrafugia, its flying car will be priced like a high-end luxury vehicle. The company suggests reserving a Transition®, which will be purchase-ready first, in order to get dibs on a TF-X™ before the rest of the public has a chance.
Talk about green skies and sunny horizons! Terrafugia is putting its money where its mouth is too – commercial production is expected within eight years. For more info or to be first in line for one of these, click here.



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