Terrafugia, a Massachusetts aerospace firm run by MIT engineers, has unveiled a new design for a hybrid electric flying car, the TF-X.
"We are passionate about continuing to lead the creation of a flying car industry,"Carl Dietrich, Terrafugia's chief executive and chief technology officer, said, "and are dedicating resources to lay the foundations for our vision of personal transportation."
A pilot’s license will still be required to drive the TF-X, though Terrafugia insists a training session would only take five hours, and that much of the flying would be done by machine. Ideally, drivers wouldn’t have to do more than enter a destination.
After a destination is entered, the car would calculate the flight distance, up to 500 miles, and determine the fuel range. Various elements like weather conditions, restricted airspace, and suitable landing locations would be considered by the computer before takeoff.
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The TF-X would drive on the ground like a car, then take to the air like a plane. Drivers could land the car in an airport or empty parking lot, and the wings would fold in.
In an emergency, the TF-X would transmit an emergency signal and locate the safest landing zone.
The current prototype, Transition, has 50 hours of fly time and a hefty price tag of $279,000.
While the Transition may be entering markets as early as 2015, the TF-X still has another eight to ten years before its public debut.