Flying cars, along with hover boards and laser guns, fall into the category of sci-fi gadgets that are technically possible, but a million miles away from commercial acceptance.
However, US firm Terrafugia is ploughing ahead with its flying car model, claiming that it should be ready in just a couple of years.
The TF-X is currently at the design stage, so it’s only visible as either a computer generated image or a scale model one-tenth of its intended size. The model is on display at the EAA AirVenture convention in Wisconsin and will soon be tested in a wind tunnel to determine its viability as a full-size vehicle.
In a statement, Terrafugia confirmed that the TF-X would be tested in the same environment as its previous models.
"The model will be tested at the MIT Wright Brothers wind tunnel, the same tunnel that was used to test models of Terrafugia's Transition,” the company explained. "The wind tunnel test model will be used to measure drag, lift and thrust forces while simulating hovering flight, transitioning to forward flight and full forward flight."
Terrafugia’s Transition vehicle, which looks like a small plane with foldable wings, was originally scheduled for release in 2016, but this has now been delayed. The flying car will have a price tag of $279,000 and customers can pre-order the vehicle for $10,000.
The TF-X has a significantly different design to the Transition and uses copter blades to reach altitude before retracting them and cruising at speeds up to 200 mph. It also comes with a number of safety features including a full-vehicle parachute system and automatic landing should the driver become unresponsive. Terrafugia claims that this makes it vehicles safer than modern automobiles.
Terrafugia’s commitment to the flying car ideal is certainly impressive, but with plenty of research and, no doubt, regulatory issues to overcome, it’ll be a while yet before we’re all commuting in the clouds.