Flying car 'for the rest of us' can be flown by anyone, company says
The Terrafugia TF-X is shown in this image taken from the company's website.
Published Thursday, May 9, 2013 11:38AM EDT
A Massachusetts-based aerospace company says it is developing a user-friendly, affordable flying car that will allow "the rest of us" to leave the asphalt and go airborne whenever the mood -- or rush-hour traffic -- strikes.
Terrafugia has made similar announcements in the past. The prototype of its Transition plane, unveiled to much fanfare at the New York International Auto Show last year, was touted as being able to fly like a plane, land at an airport, then drive home like a car.
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It's still in development and slated for release sometime in 2015 with a US$279,000 price tag.
But the company announced this week that is has another "vision for the future" -- a flying car called the TF-X that should be ready by the early 2020s and could be flown by anyone, not just pilots.
Unlike with the Transition, the TF-X won't require a runway to take off and land. And operating the vehicle "should be statistically safer than driving a modern automobile," Terrafugia says.
According to the company's website, the hybrid TF-X will have twin electric rotors, or "motor pods" which allow it to take-off vertically from the ground like a helicopter. Once it is away, the rotor pods fold forward and begin providing thrust to move the aircraft forward, joined by a rear-mounted 300-horsepower gasoline engine.
Once the plane hits cruising speed, the rotors fold up and the gas engine takes over, flying at speeds up to 320 km/h with a range of 800 kilometres, Terrafugia estimates.
And echoing the self-parking feature available on a growing number of modern automobiles -- the motor pods once again move to vertical thrust position and automatically lower the plane to the ground when the four-seater aircraft reaches its destination,
"When you arrive it lands for you. You always have the final say if it's safe to land. In seconds an airplane becomes a car," states an animated video for the plane, which shows the wings folding up and the vehicle driving away on a road.
The TF-X will also have the ability to automatically avoid air traffic, bad weather and restricted airspace, and will come complete with a "full vehicle parachute system which can be activated by the operator in an emergency."