Feeds

Fairly realistic flying car offered for 2009 delivery

It's a car. It can fly. That's it.

High performance access to file storage

Terrafugia reckons there are two main tech hurdles to jump before the Transition is ready to fly and drive. The first of these is the one-touch folding wings, which the company believes it has cracked. A demonstration wing has been built and tested successfully.

The remaining trick is not the engine - the Terrafugia mob reckon an existing Rotax job can do everything they need - but the transmission, which must be able to switch easily between driving the propeller and the wheels. It also has to be light, in order to keep the Transition within the FAA limit of 1320 pounds for a light-sport aircraft.

Anna Mracek Dietrich, Terrafugia engineer and COO, spoke to Tech Review.

"Going into this, we knew our two biggest design challenges to make it practical would be the wings and the power train," she said.

"By validating the durability of the wing's construction and engineering, we've checked one major design challenge off of the list, and now our focus is on the second."

One might also suspect that there will also be major challenges in getting the Transition certified as road-legal. This is traditionally a big stumbling block for flying-car inventors, who are often FAA-savvy but less well acquainted with the National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

"We've made inroads with both [regulators], especially the FAA," says Dietrich.

The company expects to begin flight testing next year, and deliveries from "late 2009". The business plan calls for production of between 50 and 200 Transitions annually, selling for $148,000 a pop. Terrafugia says that all its anticipated production through Q2 of 2010 has been reserved already (the refundable reservation deposit is $7,400, held in escrow) though it won't say exactly how many that is. However, the investor sheet (pdf) quotes customer number 29, so presumably at least that many orders have been placed.

For your $148k you get two seats, cruising speed of 115mph in the air (or normal motorway performance on the ground), 25 miles per gallon flying on super unleaded, and 460 miles flight range.

One of the weaker stats on the spec sheet (pdf) is the useful load - just 550lb. Up to 120lb of that will be taken up by fuel, so the Transition won't get airborne freshly topped up with two heavyish people. It certainly won't carry much baggage, unless flown solo or with very little fuel.

Budding secret agents or master criminals should also note that you can't just pop the wings out during a high-speed chase and take off: the button will only work with the vehicle stationary. There's no air-con, either.

Despite these limitations, the Transition looks very wantable indeed to your correspondent*. Regrettably, the Vulture Central scriven-remuneration package doesn't permit the purchase of £74-grand conveyances.

Perhaps they'll let us have one for review ahead of the UK launch. The MIT Tech Review piece is here

*A somewhat rusty, strictly VFR private pilot.

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
Red-faced LOHAN team 'fesses up in blown SPEARS fuse fiasco
Standing in the corner, big pointy 'D' hats
KILLER SPONGES menacing California coastline
Surfers are safe, crustaceans less so
LOHAN's Punch and Judy show relaunches Thursday
Weather looking good for second pop at test flights
Discovery time for 200m WONDER MATERIALS shaved from 4 MILLENNIA... to 4 years
Alloy, Alloy: Boffins in speed-classification breakthrough
Curiosity finds not-very-Australian-shaped rock on Mars
File under 'messianic pastries' and move on, people
Elon Musk's LEAKY THRUSTER gas stalls Space Station supply run
Helium seeps from Falcon 9 first stage, delays new legs for NASA robonaut
Top Secret US payload launched into space successfully
Clandestine NRO spacecraft sets off on its unknown mission
Get your MOON GEAR: Auction to feature Space Race memorabilia
Keepsakes from early NASA, Soviet programs up for bids
New FEMTO-MOON sighted BIRTHING from Saturn's RING
Icy 'Peggy' looks to be leaving the outer rings
prev story

Whitepapers

Securing web applications made simple and scalable
In this whitepaper learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
HP ArcSight ESM solution helps Finansbank
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Mobile application security study
Download this report to see the alarming realities regarding the sheer number of applications vulnerable to attack, as well as the most common and easily addressable vulnerability errors.