Tech

Terrafugia: Taking Travel to Land or Air

Many have reported seeing some strange things in the sky. And Terrafugia may be one of the strangest – one day!

By Jody McCutcheon

We’ve all been there. Stuck in traffic for hours, breathing in nasty exhaust fumes, bored out of our mind. But here’s a cool way to beat traffic and still park your vehicle in your own garage: fly to work!

The Terrafugia flying car is still just a concept, but what a fantastic, pulse-raising concept it is. Bridging the gap between today and tomorrow, the company was recently featured in a documentary on the movie Back To The Future, the popular film that basically delivered the dream of flying cars into common parlance (ok, that, and the Jetsons, of course!)

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This is an idea that has been in the works for some time. In fact, 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 prototype that seems to be a cross between a Transformer and a hand-held vacuum cleaner. But hey – you need to crawl before you can fly, right?

car plane hybrid

Initialized in 2013 and currently navigating the Research and Development stages, this high tech vehicle 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 800 km and a cruise speed of 320 km per hour, with manual or automatic flight control modes. That should get you to work faster than the bus!

Wondering how it gets its power? This is a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle that fits in a standard single-car garage. Theoretically, it can recharge its battery from its own engine or by plugging into an electric car charging station. It’s pretty much as simple as charging your phone is.

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It may seem far out and futuristic, but 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 airspace, plus a back-up, full parachute system for use if the operator believes the vehicle is incapable of auto-landing.

terrafugia car plane hybrid

Surprisingly, no licence required

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 this exciting flying car. 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, Terrafugia is something of a trailblazer, since nothing like its flying car currently exists – and so there’s really no way to predict how the ownership or use of such a vehicle will actually work in reality. But you can bet that officials are working to solve this problem as you read this.

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Ideally, production will begin in eight to twelve years. According to Terrafugia, its innovative 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 one of these babies 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.

Jody McCutcheon

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