Flying cars – will it be future of conveyances? – The concept of flying cars has been around for a long time. Leonardo da Vinci envisioned a personal flying machine, and centuries later the Jetsons cartoons filled the sky with flying cars. Rush hour commuters would love to just take off and fly above the mess. So far, however, these have not become a reality, but there’s a chance this could change soon. A start-up company has unveiled a concept car that can fly, and the technology is possible.
Terrafugia is leading the way
The United States aerospace start-up company Terrafugia has announced their TF-X model. This is currently a concept car, and a radical departure from typical car designs. The TF-X is created not just to drive, but to fly. Carl Dietrich is the co-founder of Terrafugia. He said that the company believes this is an opportune time to start seriously planning a flying car. There are challenges ahead, but recent advances in automation, power sources, and materials could make this possibility a reality sooner than many people realize.
Dietrich said that the company’s vision to is to bring about the transportation future that people have been dreaming of for so many years. He believes that all of the necessary technology exists. There are regulatory obstacles to overcome, but he said that initial discussions with the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) look promising. Other companies are pursuing this opportunity as well.
Flying car technology seems promising
Even though we won’t be seeing flying cars manufactured any time soon, it’s certainly good to know that there’s a company who can make them. The TF-X is not the first personal aircraft from Terrafugia. An earlier model is called the Transition, and the company has been taking orders for it. The Transition is an airplane that has folding wings, so that you can drive it legally on the roadway when you aren’t in the air. The TF-X moves from a folding airplane to a real flying car.
The new Terrafugia TF-X
The Terrafugia TF-X has a big advantage in that it doesn’t require a runway for takeoff and landing. The vehicle can take off or land vertically, just like a helicopter. You plug in the vehicle to recharge it, and in driving mode, it relies on the batteries and electric motors. To achieve lift-off, it gets a power boost from a combustion engine.
There are two large motor pods on the sides of the vehicle. These point up, and provide the lift to get it off the ground. Each of the pods has 16 independent motors, with its own battery pack and controller, so that redundancy can prevent a catastrophic failure. Dietrich says that using electric engines means you can use parallel system architecture, for greater safety in case one system fails.
Once the TF-X is airborne, the motor pods rotate to provide forward power, and the wings begin to function like typical airplane wings, providing the lift to keep it in the air. The TF-X can reach a maximum flight speed of 200 mph, and its range is about 500 miles. Dietrich said that the vehicle is still early in its development, and will hopefully be available in 8 to 12 years.
The myths of the flying car
Not everyone believes that someday we’ll be driving cars up in the air. In fact, for many, flying cars are ultimate dream. We’ve had the technology for quite some time now, so it’s not that we can’t make the vehicle; there are other impediments that won’t allow tech developers to take their invention to the next level. First of all, a new highway code will have to be implemented and integrated with the old one; second, the developers will have to find a way to make flying car silent. Right now the technology is really loud and messy (imagine a helicopter taking off).
We certainly can’t lose hope, and although we won’t be seeing any cars and car parts flying around in the next 10-20 years, we could see them in 30-40 years from now. The technology exists and it is currently being perfected by the finest manufacturers and tech gurus. Is it safe to assume that at some point in the future car technology will exceed all our expectations? Definitely!Tags: car, flying car, Terrafugia, The new Terrafugia TF-X