Flying Car Approved for Testing in the United States

December 18, 2015 | Elizabeth Knowles

Computer generated image of Terrafugia's TF-X prototype: a flying car
Photo credit: Terrafugia

Your commute will never be the same again.

Being stuck in a traffic jam is never fun. We’ve all experienced that frustration. Now, Massachusetts-based aircraft company Terrafugia is aiming to change that with their flying cars, and the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has just granted them permission to test them.

Now don’t get too excited! The version they are testing is an autonomous drone, which means that nobody will be in the car. Furthermore, it will be a smaller-scale version than the actual car — about one tenth of the size.

SEE ALSO: Lexus Brings the Futuristic Hoverboard to Reality

Terrafugia has been developing the car since 2013 and unveiled an upgraded version, the TF-X, this past July. With a cruising speed of 200 miles (322 kilometers) per hour and a flight range of 500 miles (805 kilometers), anyone will be able to fly from point A to point B in the four-seat, hybrid electric vehicle. It doesn’t even require a runway to takeoff or land. In fact, Terrafugia claims that “[o]perating the TF-X™ should be statistically safer than driving a modern automobile.” It will automatically avoid dangerous zones such as other air traffic, bad weather and restricted airspace. It will also include a full-vehicle parachute system and will auto-land if the “driver” becomes unresponsive.

According to the company’s website, it will fit into a regular garage and drive like a normal car. “When you want to go into flying mode, the wings will fold out, and twin electric motor pods on the ends will power up and lift the car off the ground using 1 megawatt of power. Two small helicopter-style propellers will provide thrust when needed, and are then folded back in when the car is cruising.”

Although the test version, measuring two feet (61 centimeters) and no more than 55 pounds (25 kilograms), will not fly as high or for as long as the full-scale version, it will help Terrafugia to evaluate the hovering capabilities of the car. “Because of the unconventional configuration of the TF-X, it is vital to achieve sustained, stabilised hovering with smaller models before developing a full-size TF-X prototype,” Aero News Network reported.

Although the car isn’t expected to be available for at least eight years, Terrafugia called the FAA exemption “a significant milestone” in its ongoing development. Even better, pricing for the vehicle will be consistent with regular high-end luxury cars. You’d better start saving up!

Watch a video of the full-sized car taking off and landing below:

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