As 2015 draws to a close, we should admire all of the technological accomplishments that exist now that we could only imagine thirty years ago, including plasma televisions, videophone calling, and even hoverboards. However, you might not have known that there is another technology that currently exists, which is essentially the epitome of a futuristic world: flying cars.
Existing flying cars are really just a combination of parts from automobiles and airplanes to create driving cars that can lift off the ground and travel in altitude. This idea is clear in Terrafugia’s flying car, which they have aptly titled the Transition. This aviation machine has a range 400 miles in the air, and can travel up to a speed of 100 mph. The “transition” from its title actually occurs once these wings automatically fold in, and the machine operates as an automobile, getting an efficient 35 miles per gallon on the roads.
The AeroMobil 3.0, like the Transition, uses regular gasoline as power and can be driven on the road and parked in any standard spot. It also makes use of wings that fold in so that the ground driving function is possible.
One major drawback of both of these flying cars is that when they act as planes, they need to take off on a runway just like an airplane. To solve this issue, Terrafugia has begun working on a “more futuristic” flying car, which they call the TF-X. The TF-X is capable of direct vertical landing and can be easily stored in someone’s garage like a regular car. At flight, this machine can reach distances of 500 miles and cruise at speeds of up to 200 miles per hour.
However, the greatest assets of this flying automobile come from the fact that it flies itself, being able to avoid all air traffic and restricted airspace, with different safeguards that account for many different potential hazards. For example, if the automobile recognizes that the operator is unresponsive, it will land itself at the closest available airport. According to Terrafugia, as it is in early development, the TF-X will be available for purchase in eight to twelve years.
With these developments, we will need to ask ourselves if we really need flying cars. Will they benefit traffic flow overall, or will they merely exist so that people can fulfill their sci-fi-originating fantasies while experiencing the thrill of soaring above cities in an automobile? Issues also arise when contemplating the logistics of these automobiles, specifically the tracks in which they will fly, since it wouldn’t make sense for them to travel in lanes. If you want a flying car, you will have to wait. Terrafugia is currently accepting orders for the Transition, but there will be some time until you are able to receive one. The AeroMobil 3.0, currently existing only as a prototype, is not available for sale, and orders will possibly be available in the next year. Ultimately, in 2016, where we’re going, we’ll probably still need roads.
Automotive and Aerospace Standards are available on the ANSI Webstore.