If there’s one thing that kids growing up during the 1970s should expect from the current age, it’s that they should, by default, be driving cars which have the ability to fly. Whether it’s the space-age vehicles seen in cartoons like The Jetsons or man’s population of the Moon in Space:1999, people have every right to feel conned that the dream hasn’t happened yet.
But now one small company based in the United States has broken the technological barrier that combines land- and air-based transport, as Terrafugia aims to have their Transition vehicle available for purchase before the end of 2012.
The Terrafugia Transition combines a roadworthy car with a specially-modified light aircraft – achieving a top speed of 70 mph on the road and 107 mph (or 93 knots) in the air. Of course, it won’t be on the road with its full wingspan – that wouldn’t be aerodynamically suitable or safe even! The wings fold away when not in use, meaning that its dimensions are small enough to fit in a standard garage.
It seems like an ambitious and audacious step in technology that surely will be a bridge too far for the developers Terrafugia; based in Woburn, Massachusetts. In terms of practicality, it would seem too good to be true. However, the Transition has already passed initial rounds of testing its capability as both a car and a plane, and has this month moved onto phase two of testing.
The company’s strategies are firmly grounded in reality too – as a start-up company it came second in the 2006 MIT $100K Entrepreneurship Competition, meaning that their plans were concrete enough to demonstrate the viability of the idea despite its lofty goal.
Further tests are to commence this month on the Transition, with the ultimate goal being approval from the Federal Aviation Administration – and if successful, Terrafugia can then begin production on its 100 registered orders, coming in at just under £180,000 per vehicle.