While the widespread use of electric cars is still on a slow but steady (and impressively quiet) rise, a Massachusetts-based company has said it will be able to produce a semi-electric, self-driving, flying car in just two years' time.
Terrafugia has said it will produce a fully working prototype of the TF-X flying car by 2018, with the hope of putting the vehicles on the market between 2024 and 2028. The company says the car shouldn’t be too much more expensive than a “high-end luxury car” and will fit in a standard-sized home garage.
The TF-X can drive much like a traditional four-seater car, however, it will feature two pop-out propellers from its side that will lift it off the ground. From here, the propellers will fold down and two ducted fan motors will thrust the vehicle at “a non-stop flight range of at least 500 miles” at speeds up to 320 kilometers per hour (200 miles per hour), according to Terrafugia's website.
Artist's impression of the prototype TF-X. image credit: Terrafugia
Although the car will be able to drive on the ground using electric power, the flight-mode is thought to require a conventional internal combustion engine assisted with an electric motor. The Mail Online also reports that the “TF-X will be semi-autonomous and use computer-controls so that passengers can simply type in a destination before taking off.”
These are ambitious plans, especially for such a fine time frame to work within. As well as the obvious engineering and design barriers that don’t appear to be fully ironed out yet, there’s a whole host of legal and safety issues the company will have to sort out before these street planes are commercially available. For instance, it's unclear as to whether a pilot's licence will be required. Other companies have made extremely similar promises of retailing a flying car, none of which have yet been manufactured, so skepticism is invited.
Nevertheless, the company is welcoming investors to help push forward this project.
To accompany news of the TF-X, Terrafugia also released this video showing how its prototype could function.