Terrafugia, perhaps the only serious company of its kind, has announced that it is now investigating the feasibility of developing a new roadable aircraft with vertical liftoff.
Terrafugia, unlike other peddlers of Jetsons-esque flying cars, has historically made good on its promises, specifically with the creation of the Terrafugia Transition. This vehicle, which transitions from a road vehicle to an airplane with the use of foldable wings, has made a number of true, successful flights and drives.
But this model is both expensive and bulky, and its large wings make the feasibility of takeoffs on a busy road laughable indeed. With the TF-X, which Terrafugia announced in a press release on Monday, the wings will be shortened, and liftoff will become vertical, assisted by helicopter-like rotors.
"Incorporating the state-of-the-art in intelligent systems, fly by wire controls, and currently available technology, the TF-X™ will further increase the level of safety, simplicity, and convenience of personal aviation," said Terrafugia.
The company's press-release reveals that the creation of flying aircraft has been hindered by a number of obstacles, besides the design of an actual craft. Apparently, there aren't any street laws or regulations that strictly address, allow, or even acknowledge the existence of aerial hybrid vehicles. Thus, Terrafugia has faced difficulty with regulations.
But if Google could get its self-driving vehicle legalized in one state, it shouldn't be too hard to imagine the same thing happening for a Terrafugia vehicle.
The company notes that conversations with the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) have been encouraging, and that the administration has demonstrated "willingness to consider innovative technologies and regulatory solutions that are in the public interest and enhance the level of safety of personal aviation."
All this flowery business talk is clearly just a complicated way of saying: flying cars might be on the horizon!