The flying car could be a reality in just two years, and you won’t need to steer it. This is all theoretical, but it means that our dreams of catching up to Back to the Future, Part II, or finally having a car that Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.‘s Phil Coulson might use could be here in 2018.
When the infamous day hit on October 21, 2015, it was obvious that the advancements we’d seen through Marty McFly’s experiences in were barely more than a dream. There were no hoverboards, though a device was quickly named the hoverboard, despite it having wheels that touched the ground. The Inquisitr reported that these devices were so prone to catching fire and endangering lives that retailers such as Amazon quickly offered refunds, “no questions asked.”
Hopefully, the Terrafugia flying car will be safer. It probably won’t feature wheels which fold under the vehicle and transform into propulsion rockets, but it does have wings and twin helicopter propellers. The manufacturer claims it will be a working prototype, and probably still in the development phases in 2018. The expected release date of the Terrafugia TF-X is slated to be 2028, says Discovery News.
What holds it back for now is the fact that it still depends on regular fuel, and not only does it need to meet automotive crash test standards, but also the FAA’s weight limit for light sport aircraft. The fuel problem could only increase current pollution problems, which is why they are working on making it completely electric. There are problems with this, as well, because the current electrical grid infrastructure isn’t capable of supporting widespread production of electrical engines.
Fuel consumption could also create an issue with EPA standards, since it takes far more fuel to fly than it does to drive, and the Terrafugia TF-X prototype flying car currently does both. The end goal is to have the 300-horsepower engine recharge the battery and give it 500 miles of freedom before it needs to land. Terrafugia also aims to give it cruising speeds of 200 miles per hour.
That is a lot of power and a serious drain on the grid for now. Hopefully, the worldwide infrastructure will be upgraded in the next ten years and be able to handle the environmentally friendly influx of electrical cars.
Flying cars could mean that ground-based travel will become obsolete if other manufacturers decide to follow in Terrafugia’s proverbial footsteps. There will also need to be an updated traffic system so the self-driving hybrids won’t be crashing due to the current lack of air-borne traffic regulations, such as the standard stop and go lights for traffic today.
They say that flying is safer than driving, and that’s mostly due to highly trained pilots and air traffic controllers. Increase air traffic and that old adage might vanish, even with self-driving cars. The Terrafugia TF-X will likely need to come with sensors able to detect other traffic within a mile or two, and correct the trajectory if there is a potential collision course.
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Of course, with all of the competition and a hefty anticipated price tag of $260,000, it’s doubtful that Terrafugia’s flying car will be taking over the automotive industry, even by 2028. Companies such as Google, Apple, and Uber are all working on their own self-driving hybrids, and upon learning of this relatively new manufacturer’s plans, could attempt to compete for your air travel dollar.
Don’t get too excited for the idea of leaving ground-based traffic behind just yet though. According to Popular Mechanics, Terrafugia is still going to face regulations from both ground and air travel standards. That doesn’t even begin to consider how much the crumbling infrastructure and the possibly victimized oil industry will likely fight to keep the flying car grounded.
Until these details, and the Terrafugia TF-X design, are finalized, we can still dream of taking to the air like Agent Coulson and Doc Brown. Progress is being made at the very least.
[Image via Universal Pictures]