The coolest flying car concept has helicopter blades and an electric motor
It's 2016, and we still don't have our flying cars.
But that doesn't mean there aren't a number of companies working furiously to make that happen. The latest example is the Terrafugia TF-X, a beautifully designed concept car that can take flight from anywhere.
Fitted with two primary, helicopter-style rotors, the TF-X is the follow-up to the company's Transition model of flying car, revealed back in 2012. That model had airplane wings that folded out, and was actually successfully flown during a test flight.
The new vertical takeoff vehicle would be far more practical, requiring just a simple helicopter landing pad (at least 100 feet in diameter) rather than a long runway — a major consideration if flying cars are ever going to become remotely common near big cities.
Combining an electric motor with a 300 horsepower engine, the T-FX would have a 500-mile range and be able to achieve cruising speeds of up to 200 miles per hour. When airborne, the vehicle would also use a rear duct fan for thrust, and its propellers can be folded up during cruising mode.
Perhaps the coolest aspect of the flying mode is that it will be, according to Terrafugia, partially computer-controlled. Aside from manual control, the driver/pilot will be able to engage an automatic cruise or landing mode, and the vehicle's system will also automatically avoid restricted air space, bad weather and congested air traffic areas.
A look at the car mode version of the vehicle in action is less awe-inspiring. The company's concept video shows the car wheeling out of a normal car garage, but it looks pretty impractical for anything more than short trips, even though it would seat four people inside what looks like a cramped interior.
Flying cars have long been a dream for many futurists, but the practical aspects of getting such vehicles into the mainstream are challenging. For example, in May, the Slovakia-based AeroMobil flying car crashed during what seemed like a simple test flight. Although AeroMobil says it plans to get its flying car airborne within the next two to three years, technical and safety issues may put those optimistic launch plans a bit farther in the future than hoped.
As for the the T-FX, its pricing has yet to be announced, but the company says that it will likely be priced similar to "very high-end luxury cars of today." But here's the real bad news: Terrafugia says the T-FX will be "in development" for eight to 12 years, so don't ditch your frequent flier miles just yet.