By Rose Eveleth
Posting in Government
In Walt Disney's vision of the future, robots would talk, holograms would deliver the news and cars would fly. We've got the first two, but flying ca...
In Walt Disney's vision of the future, robots would talk, holograms would deliver the news and cars would fly. We've got the first two, but flying cars still seem to be beyond our grasp. Or are they?
This week the New York International Auto Show will include a flying car called the Terrafugia Transition. The company doesn't call it a flying car - rather a "readable aircraft" or a "street legal airplane" but it's folded wings betray it's true identity as a bonafide flying car. The unveiled the car in its final form on Monday saying: "From home, to the airport, to where you really want to be. All in the Transition Street-Legal Airplane, all on super unleaded autogas, all on your schedule.”
Terrafugia itself isn't new - for a few years aviation buffs have been able to buy the contraption for $279,000. Now, they're bringing the winged car to the masses, hoping to find the right market and demand for the odd little vehicle. The car made a successful test flight in upstate New York on Monday, and will come to the car show this week.
Because it's such an odd vehicle, the Transition has asked the government to exempt it from standard car and plane requirements. It can use special tires and glass that is lighter than the usual weight required of cars. It also doesn't have to have electronic stability control, which would add six pounds.
The challenge, as Wired put it, is that "one plus one does not usually equal two" when it comes to combining two complicated machines like plane and a car. The Transition isn't a great car. Nor is it a great plane. It can go 70 miles per hour on the road, and 115 in the air, the company told the Christian Science Monitor. Those who want to go long distances by plane should take a plane, and those who want to go to the grocery store or even the town over should take a car. Even Terrafugia's CEO understands this tension. "If you’re flying 1,000 nautical miles, you’re probably going to want a higher performance aircraft” he told Wired. “But if you’re flying 100, 200 or 300 miles, this might be ideal.”
It doesn't help that the Transition is far more than your standard car or light aircraft. In fact, you could buy both and still have money leftover. So selling it to the public will force Terrafugia to answer the big question: why? The answer might be simply: because it's cool.
And people are interested. The Christian Science Monitor reports that about 100 people have put down a 10,000 deposit to get one. Those who do decide to spring for the flying car will have to complete 20 hours of flying time before being allowed to launch their roadster into the air. They expect to get more pre-orders from the car show as well.
Image From: Kobel Feature Photos, Wikimedia Commons
Video From: Terrafugia
Apr 4, 2012
The Transition is not the answer for nothing. But the ingenious PAL-V is: great in the air, greater on tarmac, light, relatively cheap, and multipurpose. The PAL-V is the future.
Heard on the radio other day, that insurance for this would be in the neighborhood of, get this, $60,000 a year! I hope insurance devils won't drag down Terrafugia sales. I love the company to get this dream this far, beating all the past flying cars. You suck, insurance companies. Let us have fun.
Tettafugia is not trying to sell a car that flies to the general public. They are trying to sell a plane that is street legal to drive. And they are marketing it toward pilots. They have to be doing something right because they have deposits for over 400 order commitments. That is a very respectable number of units sold for a new plane from any light plane manufacturer.
One advantage it has is a smaller road profile because of the lack of wings. If they simplify the skill needed to fly a gyrocoptor with a fly by wire system it would be more appealing to the driving public. http://www.geekologie.com/2012/04/pal-v-gyrocoptercar-hybrid-takes-maiden.php
...considering that this vehicle operates in two high-risk environments. And repairing an aircraft is nothing like repairing an automobile. For example, what would be a minor fender-bender between two cars resulting in $1000 damage could easily cost 10 to 20 times that with an airplane, where everything must be certified & inspected. I can't imagine $60k being viable, but certainly more than $10k or $20k.
But I would speculate the insurance would be comperable to what someone would pay if they ownd a high end car and a light plane. $60,000 sounds a little high, but $20,000 or $30,000 would not surprise me.
I think marketing it to pilots instead of the other way around might have done the trick. After all, who wants to take time consuming pilot courses just to fly his car.
certified, no, at least with respect to most other certified general aviation aircraft. This car/plane will fall into the latest FAA approval of meeting ASTM "consensus atandards" for lisght sport aircraft..