Traffic can be a real grind for those travelling between work and home by car every day, but commuters of the very-near future may be granted some respite by taking to the skies in a flying car.
The US company behind the concept vehicle TF-X is hoping a prototype will be ready to fly in just two years – and it will go on general sale within eight. According to Massachusetts-based Terrafugia, a full-size unmanned prototype is expected to be ready by 2018.
The firm’s concept car has fold-out wings with twin electric motors attached to each end. These motors allow the TF-X to move from a vertical to a horizontal position, and will be powered by a 300 horsepower engine. Thrust will be provided by a ducted fan, and the vehicle will have a cruising speed of 200 mph (322 km/h), along with a 500-mile (805 km) flight range.
Terrafugia said its aim is to provide ‘true door-to-door transportation,’ with the vehicle capable of being parked in a home garage like an ordinary car.
The planned four-person TF-X will be semi-autonomous and use computer-controls so that passengers can simply type in a destination before taking off. ‘The TF-X operator will have final say over whether an approved landing zone is actually a safe place in which to land, and they may abort the landing attempt at any time,’ the company says.
TF-X vehicles will be capable of automatically avoiding other air traffic, bad weather, and restricted and tower-controlled airspace.
The vehicle will be able to recharge its batteries either from its engine or by plugging in to electric car charging stations. The latest model was unveiled at the Experimental Aircraft Association’s annual fly-in in Oshkosh, Wisconsin.
However, Massachusetts-based firm Terrafugia said the TF-X will still be another eight to twelve years in development.