Massachusetts-based startup Terrafugia has recently announced plans for the world’s first hybrid-electric flying car called the TF-X. It will be a semi-autonomous flying car that is small enough to fit in any single garage, but still will be able to comfortably seat four passengers. Drivers will have the option to drive the car on the road or take to the sky and fly to their destination. Now, take-off and landing will be powered by electric motors and lithium batteries; however, long-range flights will rely on a conventional dinosaur juice burning gas turbine for power. The maximum range of the vehicle is set to be 500 miles and it will be designed to exceed current aviation safety regulations.
Terrafugia was founded in 2006 by MIT graduates. Before the TF-X, Terrafugia built and tested a flying car called The Transition. It had fold-up wings, two seats and a loud, smelly engine. The company has over one hundred pre-orders for The Transition, which will cost $279,000. The TF-X will be an improvement over The Transition. In addition to the improved hybrid engine system, the TF-X will be faster, heavier, and roomier. There will also be rotor blades on each wing tip to assist during take off and landing, then they will fold away during flight. In order to get off the ground, the TF-X will need an open space that is at least 100 feet in diameter. The is means most people will not be able take-off from their current driveways. However, 100 feet is a lot shorter than the typical landing strips used for conventional aircraft. Perhaps once the TF-X is adopted by the public parks and cities will begin to set aside space specifically for flying cars. Unfortunately, Terrafugia has a long way to go and many obstacles to overcome before that happens, but they are being realistic about the challenges. Making the TF-X safe to fly and funding are currently the two largest obstacles.