Terrafugia's TF-X Flying Car
Terrafugia is on a quest. A quest to really create a viable flying car like those in The Jetsons. Flying cars have been part of the science fiction fabric since the early 1920's but only found in illustrations or special effects. They are fast becoming a reality.
Terrafugia all ready has a prototype called Transition. It allows a person to park the car-plane in a garage and drive along roads like a car but with folded wings. When ready to avoid traffic, the carplane goes to a local airfield, unfolds its wings, cranks the prop engine and zips off into the air. This is not fantasy, the prototypes are already here and working in development. However, the TF-X is the TRUE Jetson-like car just entering development. Unlike the former, the TF-X allows for a vertical take-off and landing and smaller wings that when driven as a car, blend better into the body with much less protrusion. The learning curve for the new driver is not more than five hours behind the wheel.
The TF-X will carry four people and be able to travel 500 miles in the air. Its engine is a self recharging electric motor or from a home outlet. It will have a auto-landing control and can be flown only in non-restricted airspace unless the driver has additional training to fly into control tower airpace. Its 600 hp electric motors work off 1 megawatt of power for vertical take off and a 300 hp motor for horizontal flying. The two vertical lift motors recess and fold when the horizontal flight begins with a top speed of 200 mph. Upon landing, the wings and two propeller motors fold to the side. You then drive it like a car.
The cost will be expensive but it is hoped that once production begins it will decrease to the cost of a $65-85,000 luxury car. Think of the implications of this- avoiding traffic, unrestricted airspace until you enter a tower controlled area, which could be an issue for some when entering large urban environments, such as, Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York City, Miami and so on.
One can also see how, while it is a dream come true, it is also could be a beacon for many accidents and deaths as people learn or encounter them. Remember, only the rich will be able to afford them, so production levels will be small. Also, new laws and requirements will have to be created to govern their use, just like a car did back in the early 1900's.