Terrafugia TF-X : Your Personal Flying Car start selling in the early 2020s

 It's 2013. Where's my flying car? Answer: about eight years away.

Terrafugia is a Massachusetts company previously best known for the Transition, which is best described as a plane you can drive. Its wings fold up, meaning pilots can drive it off the runway and straight home. Which is great for pilots, but what about the rest of us?
Now Terrafugia is working on a full-on futuristic flying car, the TF-X, which it expects to start selling in the early 2020s. Think of it as a cross between a Google self-driving car , a helicopter and a plane. The carbon-fiber vehicle takes off vertically, right from your driveway (presuming you have 100 ft of clearance), using electric-powered rotor blades mounted on each side.
Once in the air, the rotor blades drop and a rear-mounted gas engine takes over. In normal weather, the computer lands for you, though you have a parachute as a backup — just in case you encounter any HAL-style situations. Its range: 500 miles.
The concept behind the TF-X is that it puts as much of the process as possible on autopilot; as much as your average commercial jetliner, if not more. "Learning how to safely operate a TF-X vehicle should take an average driver no more than five hours," the company claims.
How about the cost? Terrafugia isn't announcing that until it gets closer to production, though it does make this bold claim: "With investment in automotive scale production, early studies indicate that it is possible that the final price point could be on-par with very high-end luxury cars."
Now for the obligatory note of skepticism: we'll believe in the TF-X when we see the Transition. I covered the company back when it was founded out of MIT in 2006; back then, they told me we'd see the drivable plane on sale by 2010. (It completed its first test flight in 2012; watch it unfold its wings here .)
Currently, the company estimates it will start shipping the $270,000 Transition to eager customers in 2015. If they sell well, it will increase the likelihood of the TF-X becoming a reality.
Still, it's a beautiful concept. Memo to Google : if you're serious about changing the future of transportation, you could do worse than to snap up this startup.

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The Massachusetts-based firm Terrafugia has announced its Transition design, which is part sedan, part private jet with two seats, four wheels and wings that fold up so it can be driven like a car, will be on sale in less than two years. They have also unveiled plans for a TF-X model that will be small enough to fit in a garage, and won’t need a runway to take off. Motorised rotors attached to the wings of the TF-X make it possible to take off from standing still. This means cars could switch from driving to flying when they encounter traffic. However, the wingspan requires a diameter of 100 feet to do so. Take a look!

Introducing TF-X: Terrafugia's Vision for the Future of Personal Transportation
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Maybe I’ve just watched “Back to the Future” too many times but the latest design from Ma.-based Terrafugia, the maker of flying aircrafts that also work as cars, looks like all that’s missing is Doc and some plutonium. The next-gen TF-X will be a street legal plug-in hybrid car that has collapsible wings, retractable propellers, and is capable of driving and flying on its own in the event of an emergency.
Flying Car Gets FAA Approval
When I talked to Terrafugia co-founder and CEO Carl Dietrich about the highly anticipated Transition, Terrafugia first street legal plane, four years ago, Dietrich said the fuel-efficient vehicle promised to both revitalize under-utilized regional airports and alleviate traffic congestion (video).
Just getting on a commercial airplane is tough enough these days, so it’s no surprise that Terrafugia has taken so long to navigate regulatory hurdles. Earlier this year, it cleared a major one when the FAA classified the Transition as a Light-Sport Aircraft, which means drivers don’t need a pilot’s license, just FAA certification in this category. While the company has been working on getting the Transition in the air, Terrafugia hasn’t stopped designing.
That’s where the TF-X plan comes in. Unlike the two-seater Transition, this new street-legal aircraft will seat four and run on electricity. That means the engine will recharge the batteries in the air or it could be plugged into a charging station on the ground. According to Terrafugia, the vehicle will also have electric ground drive and electric power assist for takeoff and landing.
Other cool features include retractable wings and the propellers that open from two motor pods. Initially the propellers point up for takeoff, then the motor pods tilt forward until the vehicle cruises and after that the propellers can fold in. The TF-X will have a non-stop flight range of at least 500 miles, and is expected to be able to automatically avoid other air traffic, bad weather, and restricted and tower-controlled airspace, according to the website, as well as implement an emergency auto-land at the nearest airport, if the operator became unresponsive. See more details in the Youtube video.
The vehicle will also have extensive safety features such as a parachute system to prevent it from crashing horribly should something go seriously wrong. Terrafugia indicated that learning how to safely operate the TF-X will take the average person five hours; a light-sport aircraft certification takes an additional 20 hours.
Dutch ‘Flying Car’ Takes to the Skies
Before you get your hopes up, the TF-X will likely be in development for eight to 12 years and cost way, way more than a new car. According to the company, Transition owners will have the first shot at purchasing these vehicles when they do get produced. Nevertheless, I look forward to the day when we hear drivers turn to their passengers and say, “Roads? Where we’re going, we don’t need roads.”
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keep up with the newest technologies and contemplate about how these will be used in the future. On this blog I'll share my thoughts about the future of technology, based on the high Tech RoadShow inventions of today. Enhanced by Zemanta
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