In 2006, Terrafugia, the company built by five MIT graduates had the audacity to conceptualize Transition, the personal concept car that flew on premium automotive gasoline. Designed to fly like a “Light Sport Aircraft category airplane in the air and drive like a typical car on the ground”, it transitions from one to another in less than a minute. While TESLA concentrated on electric cars and flying in space, Terrafugia concentrated on its debut flight in 2009 and improving its proof of concept car. Transition has surmounted the legal considerations to enter the market – drivers require the standard U.S. driver’s license and a Sport Pilot Certificate. With its weight exemption, it can now be marketed as a Light Sport Aircraft and is expected to enter the market in 2019.
Terrafugia’s more recent innovation is TF-X, the all-electric flying car that will revolutionize personal transportation with its vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) and computerized controls. While many are skeptical of its roll-out in the light of recent TESLA mishaps, Terrafugia is pushing its certification so that the driver will just require an operator’s certificate, not a pilot’s license. This will definitely make it more marketable sooner.
Just imagine the freedom of driving on roads, taking off without needing runways! The space-age design with its fold-out wings and rotor blades belies its promise of practicality – delivering you safely to your doorstep with the footprint of a single car. With a cruise speed of 200 mph (320 km/h) and a range of 500 miles (800 km) powered by a 300 horsepower engine, it’s definitely suitable for short distance urban travel. For those who love films and cartoons, the four-seater TF-X is like a mash-up of the Jetson’s, Back to the Future, and Star Wars vehicles; sleek, sporty, and powerful. It’s definitely not for the ordinary Joe since it will cost more than non-flying luxury cars.
It is semi-autonomous, computer-controlled and can charge from electric car charging stations. Best of all when on air, it can avoid bad weather conditions, air traffic, and restricted flight space.
In November 2017, the Zhejiang Geely Holding Group from China acquired Terrafugia and this will enable the cars to take-off from concept to production, sales, and servicing. Terrafugia is in good company – Zhejiang Geely Holding Group now owns Volvo and the London Taxi Company and has been listed in Fortune 500 for the last five years. Currently, only the two-seater, road-legal Transitions can be reserved with a $10,000 refundable deposit paid through Paypal. Come fly with me, anyone?