If you’re like most of us, you’ve been stuck in a traffic jam and wished your car could sprout wings and fly away – maybe even take off vertically. Well, there could come a time, sooner than you think, when something very much like that will be possible.
A company called Terrafugia has been developing a flying car (or is it a driving plane?) since 2006. A prototype of a model called the Transition flew in 2009, although it has remained a prototype since then. Another, redesigned prototype flew in 2012, but design issues that were made apparent in that test have delayed the launch of the Transition even more.
As you can probably guess, integrating a plane and a car into one vehicle is no small challenge. Getting it ready for the market is a whole separate set of challenges. But it all seems like it should work. The basic design is intuitive enough - basically a plane whose wings fold in for street driving, and so that it will fit in a garage.
Admittedly, you won’t be able to take off from the middle of a traffic jam. Takeoff requires an airstrip and a pilot’s license. But don’t get discouraged yet – vertical takeoff may still await us. The Transition, you see, is merely the first of the flying car designs. An even more impressive model called the TF-X is being planned, which will not only be able to take off and land vertically, but also could be totally autonomous. In other words, you wouldn’t need to be trained as a pilot to fly it.
For now, we have the opportunity to practice the virtue of patience while we wait for traffic to clear. While we still aren’t there, we could see a functional, commonplace flying car in the future, for about the price of a high-end luxury car.