First road-legal flying car

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First road-legal flying car

Postby Dr. Diaphanous » Mon Apr 09, 2012 11:10 pm UTC

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-17626818

Spoiler:
US company Terrafugia has put on display a prototype car that is licensed to fly as well as drive, at the New York International Auto Show.

It is the first vehicle in the world to have met both the standards of the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) and the NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration), according to Cliff Allen, Vice President of Sales at Terrafugia.

This makes it the first "street legal aeroplane", he said.

Known as the Transition, the versatile vehicle has two seats, four wheels and retractable wings.

It is expected to be available next year, with a price tag in the region of $279,000 (£176,300).

Test flight

The vehicle currently has an experimental certificate from the FAA, meaning the company has permission to fly it in US airspace for test purposes. The company hopes in time it will gain a light sport aircraft licence.

The hybrid vehicle completed its first successful test flight at Plattsburgh International Airport near Montreal in Canada last month.

A retired US Air Force test pilot took the maiden voyage - after volunteering his services.


Transition completed a successful test flight on 23 March this year at Plattsburgh International Airport
"We are very fortunate to have found him," said Dr Samuel Schwegart, an engineer at Terrafugia working on the project.

The vehicle flew at 1,400 feet for eight minutes.

However, important details still need to be worked out from test data, including the stall speed of the aircraft.

There are significant design challenges marrying a roadworthy vehicle with a skyworthy one, according to Dr Schwegart.

"We were curious to see how it would take off," says Dr Schwegart. "Unlike a normal plane, it cannot rock back on its rear wheels at the moment of take-off, because it is designed to be stable as a car on the road."

The engineers also found that Transition needed more speed than anticipated on take-off, to generate the necessary lift for ascent.

A hard landing was also reported, but nothing of concern, according to Dr Schwegart.

Maintenance levels

"You can pull up at a regular gas station to fill it up", says Dr Schwegart. A full tank holds 23 gallons (87 litres) of fuel.


The vehicle has retractable wings allowing it to fit in a suburban garage
It requires Premium 91-octane fuel, and does 35 miles to the gallon (6.7l/100km) on the road, and 28 mile (8.4l/100km) in the air.

"The discrepancy is because of drag," according to Dr Schwegart.

Although Transition can be stored in a normal garage, it needs a 1,700-foot (520-metre) runway to take off.

According to the company, this is no problem, as there are 5,000 state airports in the United States. And there are a further 5,000 private ones, which might just mean a simple runway belonging to a farmer in a field.

Terrafugia calculates that you are rarely further than half an hour from a take-off point - and there are apps like Foreflight which will tell you where the nearest one is, whether you are on the ground, or up in the air hoping to come down.

"You just do your pre-flight checks, unfold your wings and away you go," says Dr Schwegart.

Target Market

The initial target market was existing pilots, but the company is now reaching out to people with no aviation background.


Terrafugia says the New York Auto Show has expanded their order book
The vehicle offers an "advanced level of freedom in life, more efficiency in personal travel", according to a company representative.

The company currently has 100 pre-orders, which in their current small production facility in Woburn, Massachusetts, already means a two-to-three-year backlog.

With a range of 644 miles (1,035km) on a full tank, the vehicle could in theory make a non-domestic journey. For the time being, however, the vehicle is restricted by its licence to flying in the United States.


Flying cars are one of the go-to cool futuristic technologies, along with jet-packs and smash. So I guess this is the future now. Can anyone lend me $279,000?
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Re: First road-legal flying car

Postby sourmìlk » Tue Apr 10, 2012 12:34 am UTC

What's this bullshit about needing an airport. I'll just use the freeway and dare the cops to ticket me before I take off.
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Re: First road-legal flying car

Postby lutzj » Tue Apr 10, 2012 12:44 am UTC

sourmìlk wrote:What's this bullshit about needing an airport. I'll just use the freeway and dare the cops to ticket me before I take off.


What if they get flying cars too? Could make for some interesting episodes of COPS.
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Re: First road-legal flying car

Postby PCal » Tue Apr 10, 2012 1:37 am UTC

So looking at its wingspan about 28 ft and US highway standards that's around 3 lanes of traffic needed for take off and landing. But also the minimum median width in rural areas is 36's so maybe runways could be installed in the middle of a bunch of highways or we could be reasonable and use airports....

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Re: First road-legal flying car

Postby Iulus Cofield » Tue Apr 10, 2012 1:49 am UTC

PCal wrote:or we could be reasonable and use airports....


We're talking about $280k flying cars. What part of that is supposed to be reasonable?

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Re: First road-legal flying car

Postby sourmìlk » Tue Apr 10, 2012 2:22 am UTC

Iulus Cofield wrote:
PCal wrote:or we could be reasonable and use airports....


We're talking about $280k flying cars. What part of that is supposed to be reasonable?

The part where you get to fly to places, and that that is worth any money.
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Re: First road-legal flying car

Postby Iulus Cofield » Tue Apr 10, 2012 2:51 am UTC

You hand me $100,000 and I will Arrange for you to be flown anywhere. Unmarked, nonsecutve bills up front, no refunds.

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Re: First road-legal flying car

Postby Falling » Tue Apr 10, 2012 2:59 am UTC

PCal wrote:So looking at its wingspan about 28 ft and US highway standards that's around 3 lanes of traffic needed for take off and landing.


It folds, bro.


Just a general correction... this is _not_ a flying car.

This is a street legal plane.

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Re: First road-legal flying car

Postby PhoenixEnigma » Tue Apr 10, 2012 3:32 am UTC

Just as a point of comparison, a new Cessna Skycatcher lists at $150k and is broadly comparable to this, so there's about an $80 000 markup to live in the future. That's not too bad in my opinion, between the functionality and cool factor, and might even pay for itself in the long run once you factor in things like (not) paying for hangar space.
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Re: First road-legal flying car

Postby sourmìlk » Tue Apr 10, 2012 4:37 am UTC

Iulus Cofield wrote:You hand me $100,000 and I will Arrange for you to be flown anywhere. Unmarked, nonsecutve bills up front, no refunds.

This deal seems suspicious.
Terry Pratchett wrote:The trouble with having an open mind, of course, is that people will insist on coming along and trying to put things in it.

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Re: First road-legal flying car

Postby Meem1029 » Tue Apr 10, 2012 4:46 am UTC

sourmìlk wrote:
Iulus Cofield wrote:You hand me $100,000 and I will Arrange for you to be flown anywhere. Unmarked, nonsecutve bills up front, no refunds.

This deal seems suspicious.


Agreed. Do you guarantee that we will arrive at the destination alive and in good health?
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Re: First road-legal flying car

Postby sourmìlk » Tue Apr 10, 2012 4:54 am UTC

And that I will be flown _from_ wherever I want?
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Re: First road-legal flying car

Postby Proginoskes » Tue Apr 10, 2012 6:44 am UTC

sourmìlk wrote:
Iulus Cofield wrote:
PCal wrote:or we could be reasonable and use airports....


We're talking about $280k flying cars. What part of that is supposed to be reasonable?

The part where you get to fly to places, and that that is worth any money.


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Re: First road-legal flying car

Postby Lucrece » Tue Apr 10, 2012 7:18 am UTC

Damn, this shit is uuugly.
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Re: First road-legal flying car

Postby Technical Ben » Tue Apr 10, 2012 8:52 am UTC

I much prefer this. If it was posted a day earlier, I'd say fake!

http://youtu.be/kTRSzjuKD3Y

But they are apparently actually developing this. I have no idea if the video is a "mock up" or real. But the history of the company actually shows they take trikes and gyrocopters to fares!

PS, it could be done with 3 vehicles. 1 trike, one motorized to unfold and one as a plain gyrocopter. The thing I'm not sure of, is if they did manage to squeeze everything into one package. :P
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Re: First road-legal flying car

Postby EMTP » Tue Apr 10, 2012 10:25 am UTC

"The hybrid vehicle completed its first successful test flight at Plattsburgh International Airport near Montreal in Canada last month."

Plattsburgh. City motto: "No, we didn't misspell Pittsburgh."

These cars are cool. They don't have that Popular Science "skycar" look but, well -- that's because they're real. I can still see a few barriers before I want to lay down my 300k:

1. I just don't need to fly airport-to-airport that often. I need to be able to land near where I work, i.e., near the city. I get that you can land in a private airport and convert, but still. I think the true mass-market skycar will be VTOL or at least STOL.

2. We'll probably need really good autopilots before we put a bunch of these things in the air.

3. What are these things going to fly on? Electric cars and hybrids are getting better and better. Even conventional cars are getting better and better fuel economy. Absent something like algae fuel, are we looking at an industry that's going to burn more fuel and inject more CO2 into the atmosphere?
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Re: First road-legal flying car

Postby Ulc » Tue Apr 10, 2012 11:00 am UTC

sourmìlk wrote:What's this bullshit about needing an airport. I'll just use the freeway and dare the cops to ticket me before I take off.


And hope that Fighters don't get pissy about illegal takeoff without registering flight routes and filling official info.

Because, last I heard, breaking flight plans without advising air control is something they get reeeeaaally uptight about. So I don't even want to know what they think of not filling a flight plan at all (or filling one and get told "no can do partner" and flying anyway).


But cool vehicle anyway, we're finally living in the future! :D
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Re: First road-legal flying car

Postby johnny_7713 » Tue Apr 10, 2012 12:51 pm UTC

Ulc wrote:
sourmìlk wrote:What's this bullshit about needing an airport. I'll just use the freeway and dare the cops to ticket me before I take off.


And hope that Fighters don't get pissy about illegal takeoff without registering flight routes and filling official info.

Because, last I heard, breaking flight plans without advising air control is something they get reeeeaaally uptight about. So I don't even want to know what they think of not filling a flight plan at all (or filling one and get told "no can do partner" and flying anyway).


But cool vehicle anyway, we're finally living in the future! :D


In the US you only need a flightplan for parts of the airspace. Quite large parts in fact, but there's also plenty of places you can fly without a flightplan, or even without having to contact ATC at all.

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Re: First road-legal flying car

Postby Arrian » Tue Apr 10, 2012 1:56 pm UTC

Ulc wrote:Because, last I heard, breaking flight plans without advising air control is something they get reeeeaaally uptight about. So I don't even want to know what they think of not filling a flight plan at all (or filling one and get told "no can do partner" and flying anyway).


For general aviation (i.e. a boy and his plane) you don't need to file a flight plan, and most of the small airports don't even have an air traffic control, or even anyone actually working the radio most of the time. There are rules of the air, just like rules of the road, and if you follow them you're good. You don't need to worry about things like flight plans and ATC until you start getting near major cities and big airports.

Wasn't the Interstate Highway System designed to provide impromptu runway space in event of a major war? This thing only needs 1700 feet to take off, which shouldn't be hard to find anywhere outside of a city. Finding a 1700 feet free of oncoming traffic...

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Re: First road-legal flying car

Postby rath358 » Tue Apr 10, 2012 4:05 pm UTC

Nope, that is an urban legend.

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Re: First road-legal flying car

Postby Arrian » Tue Apr 10, 2012 4:18 pm UTC

rath358 wrote:Nope, that is an urban legend.


Well, at least roads serve passably regardless of intent. (For landing, at least. Which, admittedly, usually requires less distance, iirc.)

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Re: First road-legal flying car

Postby Diadem » Tue Apr 10, 2012 4:30 pm UTC

Well of course, they are large stretches of solid, flat, surface. Planes can land in pastures or on water if really necessary. Stands to reason they can land on roads then. Though they have to be very careful of viaducts. And both road and plane are probably going to see extensive damage from things like lantern posts.

Also, if you are talking big planes, the road surface will suffer damage from the impact of the plane alone. So doing it multiple times on the same stretch of road is not advisable.
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Re: First road-legal flying car

Postby PCal » Tue Apr 10, 2012 4:34 pm UTC

Falling wrote:
PCal wrote:So looking at its wingspan about 28 ft and US highway standards that's around 3 lanes of traffic needed for take off and landing.


It folds, bro.


Just a general correction... this is _not_ a flying car.

This is a street legal plane.


I understand it folds but i think you want to fold the wings after your on the ground. I was speculating on to how well it could merge on to highway traffic coming in from the sky.

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Re: First road-legal flying car

Postby Dr. Diaphanous » Wed Apr 11, 2012 1:52 pm UTC

"God works in mysterious and breathtakingly cruel ways."

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Re: First road-legal flying car

Postby Hawknc » Wed Apr 11, 2012 2:38 pm UTC

...Now I'm kind of disappointed I didn't go to that airshow last year.
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Re: First road-legal flying car

Postby sockpoppet » Wed Apr 11, 2012 4:29 pm UTC

Dr. Diaphanous wrote:Flying cars are one of the go-to cool futuristic technologies, along with jet-packs

That jetpack's awfully outdated. The Martin Jetpack is much better (well technically it's a backpack helicopter). Flies at 63 miles per hour for 30 minutes, for an expected price of US$100,000. Coming soon this 2010!

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Re: First road-legal flying car

Postby sourmìlk » Wed Apr 11, 2012 6:47 pm UTC

sockpoppet wrote:
Dr. Diaphanous wrote:Flying cars are one of the go-to cool futuristic technologies, along with jet-packs

That jetpack's awfully outdated. The Martin Jetpack is much better (well technically it's a backpack helicopter). Flies at 63 miles per hour for 30 minutes, for an expected price of US$100,000. Coming soon this 2010!

That is extremely fucking worth it.
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Re: First road-legal flying car

Postby gametaku » Wed Apr 11, 2012 7:44 pm UTC

sourmìlk wrote:
sockpoppet wrote:
Dr. Diaphanous wrote:Flying cars are one of the go-to cool futuristic technologies, along with jet-packs

That jetpack's awfully outdated. The Martin Jetpack is much better (well technically it's a backpack helicopter). Flies at 63 miles per hour for 30 minutes, for an expected price of US$100,000. Coming soon this 2010!

That is extremely fucking worth it.


I don't know, using time travel to bring products to market seems seems like wasted potential.

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Re: First road-legal flying car

Postby Meem1029 » Wed Apr 11, 2012 8:31 pm UTC

Depends. Just imagine if you marketed the computers we have now to, say, daVinci. Imagine what he could do with them. Well, actually probably nothing considering that electricity hadn't been standardized/harnessed at all. But still... Or maybe Turing. That would be awesome.
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Re: First road-legal flying car

Postby Dauric » Wed Apr 11, 2012 8:42 pm UTC

Meem1029 wrote:Depends. Just imagine if you marketed the computers we have now to, say, daVinci. Imagine what he could do with them. Well, actually probably nothing considering that electricity hadn't been standardized/harnessed at all. But still... Or maybe Turing. That would be awesome.


Yeah, but bringing a state-of-the-two-years-ago art prototype to market today using a time machine would be less useful. Especially if having the time machine in the first place would assume a greater technology base than was available two years ago.
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Re: First road-legal flying car

Postby Sockmonkey » Thu Apr 12, 2012 9:35 am UTC

I'd prefer the one made by that aussie guy who made it like a flying motorcycle.

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Re: First road-legal flying car

Postby PhoenixEnigma » Thu Apr 12, 2012 10:05 am UTC

EMTP wrote:3. What are these things going to fly on? Electric cars and hybrids are getting better and better. Even conventional cars are getting better and better fuel economy. Absent something like algae fuel, are we looking at an industry that's going to burn more fuel and inject more CO2 into the atmosphere?
Hybrids and electrics are out for the moment as they weigh a ton. On the other hand, any flying car needs to be both lightweight and aerodynamic in order to actually fly, so I can't imagine them being too horrendous - in this case, it's comparable to a brand new Civic, which really isn't that bad.

It's also worth noting that it runs on premium unleaded and not avgas, which still includes tetraethyl lead. That's certainly not unheard of in small aircraft, but still a plus. Long term, I'd imagine biodiesel and not electic would be the eco technolgoy of choice.
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Re: First road-legal flying car

Postby Zamfir » Thu Apr 12, 2012 11:44 am UTC

PhoenixEnigma wrote:Hybrids and electrics are out for the moment as they weigh a ton. On the other hand, any flying car needs to be both lightweight and aerodynamic in order to actually fly, so I can't imagine them being too horrendous - in this case, it's comparable to a brand new Civic, which really isn't that bad.

Tha might be bit too positive. For one, fuel consumption rates for light aircraft should really be compared to highway cruise numbers for a car, not the published driving cycle figures. But more importantly, if people would accept cars with the interior space, luxury and safety of a Cessna 162, cars would have far better consumption figures. Or alternatively, a flying car that could replace a Honda Civic would be a fuel hog, even if this machine isn't too much of one.

Though I guess such machines are hardly competitors for cars, at best for GA planes. When people say they'd like a flying car, most mean a plane that you could fly like you drive a car, not a plane you can drive like you drive a car.

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Re: First road-legal flying car

Postby sourmìlk » Thu Apr 12, 2012 11:58 am UTC

I want a plane that flies like a plane. I hate driving.
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Re: First road-legal flying car

Postby JBJ » Thu Apr 12, 2012 12:50 pm UTC

Zamfir wrote:Though I guess such machines are hardly competitors for cars, at best for GA planes. When people say they'd like a flying car, most mean a plane that you could fly like you drive a car, not a plane you can drive like you drive a car.

Yeah... It was initially planned as an airplane you occasionally drive rather than a car that you occasionally fly.

I seem to recall when the Terrafugia was in design/concept phase, the envisioned usage was to give more options to GA pilots. One particular scenario was a cross country flight with a weather system in the way. In a small plane, you'd either have to fly around it or make an unplanned stop at a small airport, tie down and wait it out. With the Terrafugia you'd land, fold up the wings, drive a few dozen miles to get through the weather, pop onto another airfield, unfold, and continue on with the flight.
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Re: First road-legal flying car

Postby dhokarena56 » Thu Apr 12, 2012 11:18 pm UTC

I watched a documentary once about a man who invented flying cars in the '30s. But it was the Depression, so they weren't very popular.
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