I spent the final night of 1989 at a bowling alley. At 12 years old, my parents wanted to make that New Year’s Eve memorable and took my brothers and I midnight bowling.
I remember feeling a sense of awe that the calendar was about to switch the 1990s. It sounded so futuristic and had the potential to be the decade that would bring on the realization of a future I’d seen in the movies. I half expected to see flying cars in the sky on the ride home in those first hours of the 1990s.
Of course, all the 1990s brought us was email, the Internet and Vanilla Ice. Not a single flying car anywhere in the world.
If only the 12-year-old me from 1990 could have seen what Terrafugia has planned in the second decade of the 21st century!
In the development of a normal vehicle, the second generation comes, as you might imagine, after the first version has run its course and needs updating. Terrafugia has had plans for a flying car for, well, a lot of years. The airplane/automobile mashup that is the Terrafugia Transition has never left the prototype phase, yet the company already has plans for an improved second version.
According to a video posted over at Engadget, the plug-in hybrid electric Terrafugia TF-X will use propellors to lift the vehicle vertically, then switch to horizontal flight before the props fold away and a 300-hp motor takes over and brings the speed up to 200 miles per hour. The TF-X would take off on its own, fly itself and land without assistance after a destination is entered.
It all makes for some pretty serious excitement regarding the future of flying cars and the problem of congestion here on terra firma.
Naturally, there are also real-world problems that don’t show up in fancy animations. What about power lines? What’s to stop unknowing passengers or bystanders from wandering into the spinning propellers? How would the FAA regulate flights? What about range anxiety? If you’re afraid the battery will run out in a Nissan Leaf when you’re 10 miles from home, imagine the fear of the battery pack giving out when you’re 3 miles up in the air.
The odds of the TF-X reaching any kind of production aren’t all that good, but in theory the concept makes sense. At the very least the TF-X should be enough to keep the 12-year-old inside all of us excited about the future of flying cars.
Yes or no to a flying car that would fly itself wherever you wanted to go?