The World’s first vertical-take-off-and-landing car, the TF-X has taken flight.
Car design company Terrafugia had already looked set to win the race to create the world’s flying car after its Transition prototype, aka a roadable airplane, successfully came through flight tests last year. However, it is the newer TF-X that has been given all-important clearance by the United States Federal Aviation Authority.
The vertical take-off and landing vehicle has been given the acronym VTOL and, disappointingly, needs a runway to take-off and land.
The technology it needs to satisfy conditions for road and air is, as you might expect, headache inducingly clever.
The TF-X features wings which fold into itself, allowing it to safely drive on roads when in fully-electric ground mode. At take-off, those wings extend into flight position, and propellers open out. At the point where it is ready to take off, the props point upwards, allowing them to pull the TF-X off the ground. Once the VTOL is airborne, the props rotate forward, allowing it to travel. Once the TF-X has gained enough forward momentum, the propellers are retracted, and a 300-hp engine powers a rear-mounted ducted prop.
Those hoping to take the TF-X from their home to work need to hold their horses. The TF-X needs at least 100 feet diameter space for take-off, which means it is likely that designated take-off site, as used by conventional helicopters, will be the only take off points.
Terrafugia estimate that it will take just half a day to learn how to fly their new helicar, in part thanks to the addition of an automatic mode. At take-off, fly-drivers simply need to input the destination of their landing site then leave the navigation to their TF-X. The auto mode will work with air traffic control to avoid other air crafts, difficult weather conditions and restricted space. Should the TF-X stall while in flight, there’s a James Bond style parachute and, even more Bond-esque, if the carplane is being driven erratically, authorities will be informed and the vehicle will automatically land itself.
The TF-X will toddle through the air at around 200mph and will cover as much as 500 miles without need for a recharge.
However, Terrafugia estimate that this technology will not be available to the general public for around a decade.
Hopefully, there’ll be some of us still alive who’ll be able to take off and utter to ourselves: “Where we’re going Marty, we don’t need roads.”