Ever been sitting in a car in the midst of a chaotic traffic jam? In case you have, I am pretty sure you wished your car had wings and could fly you to your destination instead of moving on the roads. In case you did, there is no need for a hopeless sigh anymore because it might really be possible to own a flying car in the very near future, thanks to a handful of graduates from the Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a few others from MIT Sloan School of Management. Terrafugia, a company started by these bright brains, is actively working to launch the first flying car, TF-X, a dream for the entire humanity.
The TF-X, technically a “plug-in hybrid tilt-rotor vehicle”, is a fixed wing aircraft vehicle, with electric ground drive and electric power assist on take-off and landing. TF-X will be able to recharge its batteries either from its engine or by plugging into any electric car charging station. It will be capable of taking off and landing on almost anywhere that is flat and open, and is designed to carry a family of four at speeds over 200 mph at levels of safety unimaginable for modern automobiles. The TF-X is completely street-legal and can fit into a garage like any other car.
The Terrafugia TF-X has 4 road wheels at the bottom, along with 2 stubby wings with electrically driven rotors which will point vertically for lift off and then rotate horizontally for level flight. The driver (read pilot) decides when to lift off and to what height before flying horizontally, and the intelligent vehicle manages and executes the same. Propulsion, as it appears, will be a gas turbine for horizontal flight and hybrid electric for ground travel. The rotors and the ground wheels would be driven by a generator and battery storage. Apparently, the TF-X works on the same line as the Marine Corps V-22 Osprey and uses a 300 HP engine. The makers have incorporated 16 motors per pod as a safety feature and claim a flying range of 500 miles. The makers of this vehicle boast about its capability of automatically avoiding other air traffic, bad weather and restricted or tower-controlled airspace. The vehicle also has a backup full-vehicle parachute system which can be activated by the operator in case of an emergency, if the operator believes that the vehicle cannot auto-land. The vehicle won’t need a pilot’s license and will be able to fly in manual as well as automatic transmission mode.
The vehicle is set to hit the roads by 2021 and is likely to be priced at around $1,50,000-$2,00,000, which is roughly 5 times the current price of an Audi A3. It is only a matter of time when you see cars flying around you.