Transition flying car into 'beta test': Deliveries from 2011
In this case 'beta test' = new prototype
The makers of the Terrafugia Transition - the closest thing to a flying car yet built - say that flight testing of the initial "proof of concept" vehicle is now complete, and that the Transition has been shown to be a viable proposition. Terrafugia will now build a "beta test prototype", incorporating lessons learned by the first phase of flight tests. First customer deliveries are now expected in 2011.
The traffic round here's bloody terrible.
The Transition isn't a proper Jetsons-grade flying car. It can't hover or make vertical takeoffs/landings; it's noisy in flight; it isn't any more able to cope with poor visibility or congested airspace than a normal light aircraft. You can't use it to beat the rush-hour traffic and fly to your office in the city centre.
But the Transition is a successful "roadable aeroplane". It takes off, lands and flies like any other light plane, using small local airfields. On the ground, the pilot can press a button and in 30 seconds the wings fold up. The propellor is disconnected, and the Transition becomes a front-wheel-drive car with typical performance. It runs on unleaded, and will fit into a single-car garage. You only need a US "sport pilot" licence - significantly easier and cheaper to get than a normal private pilot's licence - to fly it.
Sorry bit late
Not been able to read El Reg for a number of days and catching up on articles, would just like to say on this one though, I'm with Robert and David... ODFO!!
Come on, the Skycar is waaaaaaay ahead, more practical and doesn't have dirty great big folded wings blocking the vital rear-quarter view. And it has added Mad Max style points over this fugly mess! As usual, the Septics are late to the party and just trying to drown out the competition with a marketing splurge.
The worry for me would be driving it as a car, knowing that even the smallest fender bender could compromise the airframe or the lifting surfaces. Then you would have a choice - maybe DRIVE back the 400 miles over rough terrain in the Outback that you just flew over, or hope that the damage wasn't too severe and that your loved ones in the cockpit would be safe in the air.
There are viable reasons for leaving fragile airplanes on tie-down points and in hangers, and getting into a real auto to do your driving...unless they can show this thing has some real resiliancy. And you do have to wonder if it would ever be really safe in a roadway accident at even 50 miles per hour - major auto companies have spent decades making autos safe in crashes, and they don't have to worry about weight as much.