This Flying Car has just been Approved for Testing
Though new technologies have brought about a whole new set of standards for what a flying machine should look like, there has never been a design that has engaged the imagination as much as the flying car. It might seem that there are better and more efficient ways to get around, but regardless of this, the draw of the sci-fi concept of the flying car has never waned. And flying its flag once again is Terrafugia, a flying car company that has now received authorisation from the Federal Aviation Administration to start testing its latest prototype.
The TF-X flying car is a 4-seater vehicle that “will look like a large car with wings” says Terrafugia spokeswoman Dagny Dukach. However, only a mini version of the flying car has been approved for testing. The FAA-approved model will be 2ft long and will be restricted to 50 pounds weight. It is currently being constructed by the 35-member team based in Massachusetts. It is expected to be flying around their workplace in the coming months.
This isn’t the first attempt a company has made at building a flying car. It has been a dream of car-makers since the days of Henry Ford. The trouble is that getting a model beyond the prototype stage and into the consumer market is incredibly difficult. The science simply hasn’t caught up with the fiction yet. Besides the TF-X, the closest thing currently in development to a flying car is a commuter plane called the “Xplorair” being built by a French government-sponsored company. Yet the Xplorair is limited to just one passenger and is essentially more drone-like than car-like.
Terrafugia have been working on the models of flying cars for about 10 years. Their latest model, the TF-X, is being designed to have semi-autonomous flight. This will make the vehicle more user-friendly – not requiring the equivalent of a professional airline training to operate. One of the biggest challenges the car faces is the battery. The company is currently planning to build a plug-in hybrid-electric battery, but perfecting its operation is still a work in progress. For now, getting a scaled model in the air is the company’s biggest concern. Any full-scale testing will require more rounds of approval from the FAA.
“It’s really going to revolutionize the way that everybody gets around,” says Dukach. However, it might still be too early to trade in your current car.