One of my favorite movie series is Back to the Future. It’s such a fun trilogy, and I love when the characters travel to the future and their vehicle, the Delorean, has been converted to a flying car. They travel to 2015 where cars fly through the air just like airplanes. I recently found an article that says flying cars may be available as early as 2012!
Terrafugia, a company based in Woburn, Massachusetts, has a car/plane vehicle called the Transition, which recently received approval from the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Last year, it received approval to fly as a “light sport aircraft” from the Federal Aviation Administration (with a special exemption to fly 110 pounds heavier than others in its class).
Terrafugia had to convince the NHTSA that its light Plexiglass windows, the kind normally used on aircraft, would be preferable to the standard heavy, shatterproof glass required for automobiles and trucks. They also had to show that the tires used would be suitable for highway driving.
The Transition can move between the sky and road with its push-button retractable wings that narrow the plane enough to allow it to fit on standard roads. There is room for a pilot and one passenger. It has airbags and utilizes an energy absorbing crumple zone similar to that used in many cars, and like a racecar has a carbon fiber “tub” (or safety cage) in case of rollovers.
The Transition runs on normal unleaded gasoline, has a cruising speed in the air of about 115 mph and a flying range of 460 miles. When driven like a car with its wings folded, it gets 30 mpg. The use of regular fuel versus aviation fuel will make the Transition the most environmentally friendly plane in the air.
The current price is said to be between $194,000 and $250,000 though the price hasn’t been finalized as of yet, and customers can currently lay down a deposit of $10,000 to ensure they are first in line. The company has already received 70 orders.
Training for a light sport aircraft license in the US requires only 20 logged hours in the air which may appeal to those who don’t want to get training for a full pilot’s license. Having a flying car in the air and on the road may happen soon but with a new type of transportation will come new questions on how that vehicle will operate with other air and road vehicles.
It’s exciting to see this futuristic technology become a reality, and it makes me wonder what kind of new transportation is next – transporters as in Star Trek? Time travel? Most certainly, safety should become standard and implemented in all new technology as we move forward. Products like Pulse™, which protects all of us on the road, should become status quo in all new products released.