Thursday, September 7

The flying car is coming! Duck!

Terrafugia are taking deposits on their flying car, the Transition, even though a prototype isn't due until 2008 (and prototypes aaaalways run late.) In the meantime, you're able to watch some lovely animations of the thing landing at a runway and driving home, read the planned specifications, and download a flyable demo using the X-Plane software simulator.

Terrafugia prefers to call it a "roadable car" because you're meant to only drive it to the airport and back - saving on hanger rental by parking it in your garage at home. It is about 2m tall with wings folded, only takes 2 people and requires a built-in calculator to help balance passengers and luggage when airborne, so I can't see it making much of a useful every-day car anyway.

Even from the animations I can foresee some significant engineering challenges that presumably are still works-in-progress, including a set of folding wings. Whatever the mechanism, you definitely want those puppies to work perfectly every time! You won't enjoy your landing if they fold mid-flight, and you won't get very far on the road with your wings still extended to their 8m span!

Minimum runway length is listed as 500 meters. Hmmm... of course, it would be highly illegal, not to mention incredibly dangerous, to skip the airport and use the nearest straight stretch of quiet freeway... you'd need at least two empty lanes... but I wonder if they could scramble the police helicopter quickly enough to catch me...

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