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Posts Tagged ‘flying car’

Terrafugia Wants to Build Flying Plug-in Hybrid

Computer controlled, concept would require as little as 5 hours training to fly.

by on Apr.29, 2014

The Terrafugia TF-X would travel 500 miles on a plug-in hybrid power train. However, it's not likely to be ready for another decade.

Flying cars have long been the stuff of science fiction, though plenty of entrepreneurs and visionaries have struggled to make the concept a reality – including no less than the original Henry Ford.

Several projects are now underway and one, started by a group of MIT alumni, is rapidly working its way towards reality. But the former college cronies apparently are dreaming about taking their original Transition flying car a giant leap further into the wild blue yonder with an even more advanced design they’ve dubbed the TF-X.

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To start with, the four-seater would be capable of vertical take-offs and landings. And since it would largely be controlled by a central computer network, the TF-X would, claims a Terrafugia promotional video, require a pilot/driver to have as little as five hours of training, a slight fraction of what it now takes to get the most basic private pilot’s license. (more…)

Terrafugia Transition Flies into NY Auto Show

After getting federal OK, first flying car taking orders.

by on Apr.06, 2012

The Terrafugia Transition takes wing on its maiden flight last month.

It’s been a dream that countless visionaries and entrepreneurs have failed to achieve. But five former graduate students from MIT are about to take wing with the world’s first flying car.  Make that the first to pass muster and win the necessary approval of government regulators.

That’s been no easy task for Massachusetts-based Terrafugia which had to deal with a complex mix of occasionally conflicting automotive and aircraft regulations.  But their Transition 2-seater, which took its maiden flight two weeks ago, is ready to go into production, with sales set to begin about a year from now.

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The company claims it has already taken 100 advance orders – but it’s looking to line up more with a display at the 2012 New York Auto Show, where it is competing for attention alongside more conventional automobiles, like the new Toyota Avalon and the reborn SRT Viper.

“Don’t think of it as a car that flies,” suggested Carl Dietrich, one of the MIT students who is now serving as Terrafugia’s CEO. “Think of it as a plane that drives.”


Jetsons’ Flying Car Closer to Reality

Terrafugia Transition flying car could be roadworthy – and airborne – by 2012.

by on Jul.06, 2011

Come Josephine in my flying (and driving) machine, as the Terrafugia Transition comes closer to reality.

It’s been a fantasy for more than a century. Even Henry Ford hoped to find a way to get one of his early flivvers to fly, but after countless failures it may soon become a reality.

Federal regulators have approved a series of exemptions that could get the Terrafugia Transition off the drawing boards and into production as early as 2012.

Designers have equipped the car/plane hybrid with a variety of automotive safety features, including airbags, that typically aren’t offered by most private aircraft.  The challenge has been to overcome some automotive standards that don’t quite work when your car is sprouting wings.  So exemptions from certain rules, such as side-impact standards, had to be authorized by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

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That challenge resolved, Woburn, Massachusetts-based Terrafugia plans to have at least one production prototypes on display later this month at the EAA AirVenture, the annual “fly-in” at Oshkosh, Wisconsin that draws pilots and flying fans from around the world.

“The vehicle will not be ready to fly” at the show, as originally promised, noted a statement from the start-up aircraft maker’s CEO Carl Dietrich.  “The first test flights would be expected in March of next year,” due to a number of other delays Terrafugia blames on its suppliers.


Texas Firm Gets Pentagon Support For Flying Car

Transformer-like concept to help troops sidestep ambushes?

by on Jul.16, 2010

Able to leap tall buildings -- and enemy ambushes -- in a single bound, the AVX Transformer TX concept.

It’s been the dream of automotive entrepreneurs since at least the days of Henry Ford, but now a Texas start-up made up mostly of aviation industry veterans is betting it can come up with the elusive combination of automobile and aircraft.

Bearing a bit of a similarity to a child’s transformer toy, which can quickly take on a variety of different shapes, the concept being developed by AVX Aircraft Co. has a distinct advantage over other efforts to mate wings and wheels on a single vehicle – Pentagon cash.

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Worried about the vulnerability of its troops to ambushes, improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and other booby-traps, U.S. military planners are taking a closer look at the AVX Transformer TX program.  Though the Pentagon has yet to actually place an order, its research arm, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency is about to invest $9 million in preliminary development.


If Cars Could Fly or Planes Could Drive?

Another flying car project has left the ground, sort of.

by on Mar.23, 2009

The dream of a flying car persists against all odds.

The dream of a flying car persists against all odds.

After six months of testing, a flying car has taken to the air over the runway at Plattsburgh International Airport in New York.  The “Transition” light sport aircraft has design goals of 450 miles of cruising flight at speeds up to 115 mph once development, testing and FAA certification are complete — processes that could take years if they are ever accomplished at all.

The unique, proof of concept contraption, four years in the making, has front-wheel drive for road use with a claimed top speed of 60 mph and unspecified “automotive safety” features. A pusher propeller is used for flight. A Federal Aviation Administration Sport Pilot license will be needed to fly it, and even then only in good weather conditions.

Both air and road modes are powered by unleaded gasoline from a regular service station, and the wings fold electronically in just 30 seconds, a feature that is presumably over-ridden when the four wheels are off the ground.

“This breakthrough changes the world of personal mobility. Travel now becomes a hassle-free integrated land-air experience. It’s what aviation enthusiasts have been striving for since 1918,” says Carl Dietrich, CEO of Terrafugia (terra-FOO-gee-ah), a start-up company founded in 2006 by five graduates from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. (Terra fugia is Latin for escape from land.)

It’s not clear to me what the significance of the 1918 date is. The Wright bothers of course first flew on December 17, 1903 after years of research with kites and gliders that they designed, built, tested and flew.

The Transition test is similar though to the first Wright flight since it was short, very short, less than 30 seconds in duration. The two-seat plane stayed about a wing’s length above the runway for what looked to be 3,000 feet, then quickly landed again. This means that lift was increased from what’s known as “ground effect,” whereby drag is reduced and speed is increased since proximity to the ground reduces wingtip vortices and their consequences.

Whether the Transition has enough power to climb out of ground effect and fly on its own is another matter entirely. This didn’t stop TV news readers from gushing about the project with their usual insight and perspective. The plane —  whether it ultimately works or not — will no doubt be a star on the air show circuit since it taps into primeval needs for mobility and whimsy. (more…)