The Flying Car That Could Expedite Your Morning Commute

By Carl Engelking | May 1, 2014 1:41 pm
An artist's rendering of the TF-X in flight (Courtesy: Terrafugia).

An artist’s rendering of the TF-X in flight. Courtesy Terrafugia

Flying cars have long been the unofficial signpost that will mark our entrance into The Future. Now, it appears, that key moment could be soon approaching.

Flying car prototypes are nothing new. The U.S. Patent Office in 1918 issued Felix Longobardi the first patent for a flying vehicle, which was also submersible in water. Subsequent attempts at the flying car, though they flew, weren’t very practical. However, a team of Massachusetts Institute of Technology alumni is working with a company called Terrafugia to develop a prototype that could make flying to work a reasonable proposition.

Fully Loaded

The developers are the same MIT alumni that developed the Transition car-plane, which still requires a 1,700-foot runway to take to the skies. To eliminate the need for runways, their new vehicle, dubbed the TF-X, would be capable of vertical takeoff and landing — a crucial maneuver in urban environments. Based on designs, its flight mechanics would be similar to the military’s V-22 Osprey, based on a video released by developers that simulates flight in the TF-X (below).

The TF-X is designed to seat four passengers, fit inside a standard single-car garage, travel 500 miles on one trip, and reach speeds of 200 miles per hour, according to specifications listed on the Terrafugia website. It would take just five hours of training for the average car driver to learn how to safely operate the craft.

And fortunately for future airborne commuters, the TF-X would feature automatic systems that avoid mid-air collisions, detect bad weather, and automatically implement an emergency auto-land procedure if the driver becomes unresponsive.

But the biggest feature to brag about to your friends if you someday get your hands on a TF-X: It’s a hybrid.

Development Timeline

You’re going to have to wait a while before you get behind the wheel of a TF-X. Development is expected to take roughly 8 to 12 years. If the TF-X finally goes to market, it’s estimated to cost about as much as a very high-end luxury vehicle.

However, if you can’t wait that long, the Transition flying vehicle, mentioned earlier, is nearly ready for sale. Designers are still working through product development and the federal regulatory process. If you can spare about $280,000, the Transition could be yours.

 Simulation of TF-X Flight

 

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  • http://www.mazepath.com/uncleal/qz4.htm Uncle Al

    A Honda Civic coupe LX tops at 143 hp or 0.106 MW, and holds 13.2 gallons for a highway 39 mpg range of 500 miles. A Cessna 150-152 gets 15 – 22 mpg with about 150 hp, same range given greater tankage. We are now told a flying car gets the same mileage as a Honda Civic while generating 10X the usable energy. No.

    What generates lift when the thing files horizontally? One eagerly anticipates the first software service pack arriving. Windows CE?

    • http://blogs.discovermagazine.com Ronald Janis

      Gives new meaning to “Dang it! System just CRASHED!!” or “Sorry I’m late again Boss… It just wouldn’t BOOT UP!”

      • http://blogs.discovermagazine.com Jonathan Tracey

        It also gives a new meaning to “I just programmed my flying car to play Star Fox 64.”

    • Don’t Even Try It!

      I’m flying over some area letting the car/plane do it’s thing and Whoa!!! here comes another “Windows Update–Restart Required” CRAP! I hate it when that happens!

  • Melody Lin

    yeah. I don’t really see how these are practical.

    I can see insurance for these things being absolutely unaffordable. Every accident will be in the $1 million + range in damage. Imagine somebody crashing into the Washington Monument or someother historical/high-cost structure? Or a mid-air collision from 100 feet up and landing on a crowd of people? At least when we are driving on the ground, there is at least a limit to the damage we do.

    I can definitely see $2000/month premiums for these things… which is a far cry from the $25/month I currently pay (from Insurance Panda.. woohoo!). So with a price tag at least multiple times more expensive than a Tesla, insurance policies more expensive than 99.9% of us can afford, and fuel costs that will also be thru-the-roof… I don’t really see these things happening in our life time.

    • Deborah Dalton

      The world is not just made up of people who can’t afford expensive things… or only want things that are practical. There is enough of the world’s population where $280K is nothing but spare change. I hope this is a success. I like big innovations and execution; succeed or fail. Too, if you are only paying $25 for car insurance… please let me know what city you are in so I can avoid you and your vehicle (I can’t imagine so little insurance covers very much).

      Broaden your horizons and imagination, Melody Lin. Life is too short to be practical, practical, practical.

      • Vince

        Ah… that’s a little mean Deborah — Melody does have a point you know. Although, props to the guys who are doing this. Hope they succeed too.

        • Deborah Dalton

          Hi, Vince! Actually, I think it’s important, especially when you are young, to think larger and more creatively. In my mind, Melody was knocking this achievement simply because the vast majority could not afford it. So what? We are all different… that’s what makes the world interesting (if not always fair). I guess I just don’t think we have to live in a world where everyone gets or is entitled to the exact same things… they’ve tried that in other places and it does not work. And, yes, $25 car insurance is a bit scary… she should probably make sure she is covered because things happen. What’s wrong with asking her to take a look at that? If she is under the impression $25 car insurance is giving her excellent coverage, she is probably mistaken. Her future could be made less stable if she is at fault in an accident and has nominal coverage. Now THAT’S thinking practically…

          • http://wimd.biz Brian Keary

            If you all remember when the apple IIC came out as a personal computer in 1984 the price tag was over $12K. If this vehicle really works the prices will come down.

          • notayot

            The Apple IIC was $1,200 not $12,000 back in 1984. And guess what you pay for an Apple computer now: $1,200. (Adjusting for inflation, yes it is cheaper, but you can’t say prices exactly came down. )

          • http://blogs.discovermagazine.com Julianna Robinson

            Um…but an Apple computer now does WAY more than what the IIC did. :P To get something a thousand times better and faster than the previous for a lesser price? Astounding.

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          • Don’t Even Try It!

            $1,200 was a lot harder to come by in 1984 than it is today!

          • Robert Fox

            i live in Colorado Springs, CO. I pay $56 bucks a month on insurance, my truck is worth about $10 and it is a 4800 pound missile flying down the road. You sound very judgmental to me and I’d love it if you stayed far away from Colorado Springs, i”d have a much better life. Good Day.

      • Grumpy Old Guy

        I only pay $25.00 per month for liability on my cars. Come visit and you will stay. Lake Powell, AZ. Hope to see you soon. Oh, and leave your attitude home, we don’t accept it here.

    • Chandar Ratnam

      If we read the captions in the video it says the vehicle will take you. You have the final say to land or not. So don’t worry about the “driver” smashing into things.

      • Aaron

        It looks like Debbie neither read the article nor watched the video.

      • josh

        Humans find a way to fail lol.

    • SixSixSix

      It means there is not a sufficient base to really develop the engineering, the supply chain and the infrastructure to support these other than as oddities which in which the rich quickly lose interest. If only rich people bought iPhones they would be the size of small suitcases with five pound batteries. The power of consumerization should not be under estimated in the manufacturing process – it is the central lesson of all modern hi-tech: the low end eats the high end. You could argue it has been the central point of the entire industrial revolution – taking things that previously only the elite might have seen (if at all) and mass producing them.

      • Michael

        Your own statement is contradictory to itself. The mobile phone did start out as a brick that only the rich could afford, yet without it you wouldn’t have an iPhone today. It is exactly this type of development, that seems impractical, that drives innovation and revolutionary change.

        • SixSixSix

          Not really. Moore’s law took the cell phone from a an expensive toy to consumer deployable device. A flying car has no such basic design and manufacturing force to enable it further. That has been true for the last one hundred years with no sign of any underlying break through in physics and engineering to support mass adoption.

    • Marek Urban

      There will never be a flying substitute for car, at least not in a form of vehicle that would be driven by a human. The main reason is the one you mentioned it is dangerous and it can be used for wrong purposes (and options are limitless).

      However I can imagine vehicle like this, driven by an autopilot with no way of manual flying option. Imagine you would just pick a city a it would get you to the area designated for landing, flying in predetermined corridors Then you would simply drive to where ever you want. Company would therefore be responsible for any damage caused in flight so there would be no reason for customer to pay high insurance.

      As price itself goes, it is a plane and a car and there is no mass production so 280K seems reasonable to me. If it would become mass produced there would be massive drop in price.

    • http://blogs.discovermagazine.com Clarke

      You don’t seem to understand the concept of collision avoidance. Your vehicle will sense other objects in your flight path and steer around them, whether they are other vehicles or stationary objects like the Washington Monument. It would actually be easier to avoid a collision with another object during flight as opposed to on the ground because your flying car will have more degrees of freedom in a 3D environment, up and down in addition to left/right and (attempted stop). And there are a lot less obstructions in flight than on the road so the objects could be seen a longer distance away and your vehicle will have more time to take corrective action to avoid a collision. So the risks should be lower and therefore so should your insurance, not the other way around.

      Of course, these collision avoidance systems are still not sufficiently reliable at this time to be sanctioned by the FAA nor affordable enough for you and me. But that will eventually happen although I would think that there will always be a premium for these types of vehicles.

      • Don’t Even Try It!

        I get a really clear image of “The Jetsons” here >_<

    • Gary Thomas

      Thanks to having been with USAA insurance since you before you were born, USAA actually pays me $100 a year to carry liability insurance on two cars for me and my wife. Thats for coverage that far exceeds the miniimums required.

  • Rod DeValcourt

    neat! however the reality is the #stupid people who can’t drive a car now. think about the #yahoo #late for work jumps out of bed jumps into clothes/flying car and starts it up…takes off heads to work not thinking. an ACCIDENT waiting to happen.

    • James Krout

      Wow, what a idiotic response or was it a joke. As the captioning stated “The car flies you to your destination” then lands if the driver permits it. As you plainly can’t wrap your mind around this simple suggestion, I will explain it simple enough for your feeble mind can handle. Car controlled by computer…car flies by computer control…car lands by computer control…Sensors of proximity to surroundings will most likely be part of that control.

      • Jimbo Jimmy

        This was definitely worth getting pissed off over.

      • Colin Bennett

        It will come about, the company not have to make that many to make good profit. Plus there is the next generation, there always is a next generation.

  • Mark Dollard

    I build and fly RC aircraft and think about the subject every day all day. I have scratch built several VTOL aircraft, have two quad copters, a tri-copter, a VTOL plane with rotating motor pods on the wing tips and stabilizer tips all of which are controlled by an electronics board. The technology for these things is now off the shelf and inexpensive. This TFX is truly no different than that of an RC twin copter with a pusher propeller and would use the same interface to control pitch, yaw etc. In fact, all of my multi rotor craft have a GPS navigation system that allow autonomous flight to specified waypoints via point and click. The “wings” or airfoil on this car/craft appear to be fully symmetrical which gives lift in forward travel. It really doesn’t take much to keep something in the air. Soon, we, I say we in reference to RC nerds like me, are waiting on a control board that has sense and avoid technology that maps obstacles in real time, cost about $200. So here it is. This will be a safe vehicle to travel in, probably safer than that of road travel, which from behind my wheel, appears more and more congested every year. Yes indeed, and entirely new infrastructure will need to be put in place. Or we could just ride around in covered wagons.

    • dscot

      Thank you Mark for your informed and thoughtful response. Far too many dim witted comments on here!

  • Brian Gackenbach

    Pretty nifty! Those of you worrying about air traffic patterns, mid air collisions and the like, are putting the cart well before the horse. I would imagine that for quite a LONG while, these will remain only an option for the ubber wealthy. Insurance, training, operating costs, etc…will prevent this from being any sort of realistic option for anything but the most wealthy 5%. Once they do start becoming more affordable, safety issues will most assuredly be addressed along the way. I’m quite sure they’ll have very restricted no fly zones, may even be required to fly over existing interstates…who knows…way to early to speculate. But still…exciting nonetheless, and would be toooo much fun!! :)

  • Larry

    Its not enough that I have 3 or 4 near misses a week on the highway. Lets give them wings!

  • markfive

    These will obviously only be available for the very wealthy for a very, very, very, very long time. Still, great design.

  • geo prism

    There are bush planes that can take off in 15 feet. Why in God’s name would you want this.

    • Headbangerguy

      Agreed. There’s something new like this every couple years. None of them make to to market.

      They’re all a bad compromise. You get a lousy car and a very expensive airplane with lousy performance.

  • Marius Meyer

    With you there Melody

    • Colin Bennett

      C’mon peeps, if Bruce Willis can drive one in the 5th element, we all can!

  • Aurora Sheba

    So not only can you fly but now when you crash you also get to fall to your absolute death.

  • Darkwing Dragon

    it`ll be only for the incredibly wealthy of course. :P

  • josh

    Dude thats awesome but can we get away from gas? 25 for insurance buys 50,000$ of liability insurance to a safe driver so stop being so arrogant and better than everyone. Where there is a moron there is a way to crash a plane into anything.

  • creeper

    Not a prayer something like that would fly. Airplanes need wings.

  • Ideation20

    The strand gets a little chippy and personal,OK I get it.
    I just thought that firstly the $300 k price is not stratespheric there are internal combustion cars around that price being made and happily purchased right now.And lastly this incarnation we are enjoying has probably been significantly improved. This is so far a GPS helicopter at it’s most likely application at this point. So be prepared to be knuckle punched ….it ain’t no car at all.

  • Frank M

    Why not start a bit differently. We currently have an aging railroad fleet and terrible infrastructure for it. If these sky planes are so efficient, with a little redesign why not create a modular system of cars that would power themselves connected to a main driving module when someone with experience similar to an engineer/pilot would be responsible for driving it? Sure, we all want are own flying car, but if the fuel efficiency and benefits of this flying car are so great, wouldn’t it make the most impact in public transportation first instead of allowing rich playboys to live out their star wars fanatasies?

    • Colin Bennett

      Nothing wrong with rich play boys, they exist, live with it, anyway you too, in the not too distant future may have the wherewithall to purchase one. Best Colin

  • Ruth Nederlk

    Save your money only $280,000 But you got time they wont be out for 8 or 10 years. . Hope you got a job!!

    • Colin Bennett

      Hi there, When this idea gets off the ground, the company will be looking for more people to work, in other words making work for America. I’m English, and I think it’s a great idea, yes I’m a futurist, we learn from the past, then move forward, that’s what we do as a species. Best Colin

  • http://blogs.discovermagazine.com William Roberts

    Yet another flying car…boring.

    • Colin Bennett

      Boring, you haven’t flown it yet, how would you know.Best Colin

  • Guest

    Nice! But I have 99% of certainty that this car never will be available.
    I’ve watched videos like that on internet or tv for 10, 15 years…
    Videos talking about the car from the future, how the live will be in
    the future and that all bullshit. The future never will be available.
    Powerful guys and factories never will allow the evolution. Keep buying
    your favorite car, next year the lamp is going to be different and it’s
    all. No one will release products like that. And by the way I never saw
    the future car from 15 years ago. keep dreaming!

  • Deivson Marques

    Nice! But I have 99% of certainty that this car never will be available. I’ve watched videos like that on internet or tv for 10, 15 years… Videos talking about the car from the future, how the live will be in the future and that all bullshit. The future never will be available. Powerful guys and factories never will allow the evolution. Keep buying your favorite car, next year the lamp is going to be different and it’s all. No one will release products like that. And by the way I’ve never seen the future car from 15 years ago. keep dreaming!

    • Colin Bennett

      It’s not Bullshit, remember those days when people like Bill Gates said this will be here in the next so &so, and one day you will have a tablet in your palm and do this and that, well that day has been and gone, and thank to people like the late Steve Jobs with his vision we are now waiting with baited breath for the next generation, did you say how boring way back when, of course you did, but hey man it’s here biting you on the bum,pls give visionary people just half a chance. It’s those people that will deliver in time, wheat her aviation, medicine the very thing that you don’t know you want until it’s been invented.

      • Deivson Marques

        I really believe in this visionary guys, I just think that the world, nowadays, will not give half a chance to them. Unfortunately, people like Steve Jobs is dead. He was my hero. This guy was not only a visionary, but someone who had courage to fight against his own projects, risking industrial plans and database from the Apple to release the best products ever made. Nothing and anyone can disrespect an industrial database, but he did, for our happiness. Bill Gates is not a visionary guy as Steve Jobs was, but just a man who see market opportunities, a businessman.

        The people need to understand that when we talk a about cars, whatever type of the car, there are only 3 acceptable spaces in the world nowadys and ever. The first one is Fordism that was born with Ford and second one is Lean production that was born with Toyoda founder from Toyota. Both of them never ever, ever, fight against the database releasing new products. Its what I call as industrial bureaucracy. New and visionary products go always to the end of the queue. And accutally, the visionary cars will feed (in a distant future) only the luxury cars.

        There is no future with bureaucracy! If you look back, 20, 30 years ago, the vision to 2014 was much higher. But remember that, anyone can desrespect the database to release something really incredible.

  • Colin Bennett

    It’s a great innovation, and for those who can afford, or who are in the travel business like myself a new way to transport clients.I m a taxi owner/driver in the UK my insurance is over 1,000 per year compared to a private motorist at £200

  • Colin Bennett

    Remember those that can do, those that can’t critique !

    • Greg

      Uhmmm, not really. I’m an Air Transport Pilot and Flight Instructor. Just look at the damned thing. If the engine(s) quit, don’t expect to just glide down to a safe landing. Unless a big parachute pops out, your probably gonna die.

      • Colin Bennett

        Hi greg,funny you should mention the parachute, they have already factored that in.And remember this guy, The CEO of Terrafugia is a pilot, and aero space engineer, in other words he is no mug.Best Colin

        • Greg

          Well Colin, I admit I was not schooled as an aero space engineer, however, I do have a background in engineering. After viewing the video clip I still have a hard time believing that those stubby wings are going to provide enough lift for a controlled descent after experiencing a dual motor failure. Perhaps the fuselage could act as a lifting body or maybe there is some kind of vectored thrust that comes into play. I would think that a parachute would be a necessity. I wonder how the FAA would respond after a few of these aircraft come floating down (under parachute) into populated/residential areas.

          • Colin Bennett

            Hi Greg, Re the stubby wings, they remind me of your famous p51 Mustang but on top of the main structure, I am sure that as a aero space engineer Carl must know that the design is a probability as opposed to a non-starter as why go to the expense of having a artist impression. As to your very valid point of the parachute scenario.The fact that a safety mechanism has been factored into the design shows that safety must be of paramount concern. Now unlike you I have no engineering competence whatsoever, but Am I right to suggest that if the main 300 hp engine fails the chute then deploys, the vehicle is light, I should imagine and could the chute be deployed as to navigate away from possible danger (ie) from a busy road, school ect, and with the help of the rotating (VTOL) propulsion when landing could assist with a safe landing.

          • Colin Bennett

            If the (VTOL) fails what about 2fore &aft, and side telescopic shock absorbers to soften the landing,! Ok if the craft is unstable,and could not land square to the ground, how about 2for&aft blast stabilisers, to correct unstable landing !! If that’s not good enough, what about several impact inflation bags!!! And an air horn to clear people out of the way !

          • Colin Bennett

            It may add to cost, but what price safety.

          • Greg

            I really don’t have enough information on the proposed aircraft to form a valid opinion. My former comments were based on the artistic illustration. I suppose anything is possible with enough money thrown at it. I suppose a guided parachute is a possibility. Then again retro-rockets could be employed. What I’d really like to see is a full vehicle airbag deployed. Kind of like the way they landed one of the former martian landers where it bounced all over the freaking place. That would be a hoot, and a hell of a ride ;-)

          • Colin Bennett

            Hi Greg, Yes you are right, the full airbag would be the best option, and perhaps the least expensive.Its been good talking to you, and even better that we respected each other’s opinion without resorting to the usual bad mouthing. Have a good life. Best Colin

          • Greg

            Agreed Colin, take care. Greg

  • http://reelwebdesign.com/ Peter Marino

    These can be practical Melody Lin if they are automated. Remember in the next 10-15 years many cars will be driving themselves thanks to Google and GPS/sensor technology being implemented already on roads in Nevada. If they are automated and have pre-laid out destinations then this can be very practical within the next 15-20 years. Yes it will start out as the rich persons ride, but just like everything else the masses will be able to join in when the technology becomes inexpensive. Graphene and graphenoid substrates and the manufacturing of these substances for both batteries and building materials will usher in a grand new landscaping of our world. FLying cars will only be a small part of it.

  • Greg

    And the glide ratio of a brick when the engine(s) quit. No thanks.

  • Rob Roy

    Imagine the mid-air collisions over Manhattan?

  • Alan

    All this negativity is surprising. Is it
    sour grapes that none of us 99% will be able to afford one? Just one more
    thing the rich have that we don’t? Or is it cynicism over waiting so long
    for our flying car that is always just a few years away? We got our personal communicators, huge wall mounted TVs, and, soon, self driving cars; why not flying cars? The technical issues will be resolved of course. Its time to be optimistic about the future again!

  • Sean White

    I always smile inside when I think about how the “flying car” is the classic image/embodiment of “the Future.”

  • Captain Slog

    Someone out there has Repulsorlift Technology, but, it has been “Hushed Up.” Why not being it out into the open and use that instead? Its safer, and you don’t have to worry about weight. You can have BUS sized transports that can carry many people and ALL of their heavy Luggage. At Airports you’d go to make a booking and at the counter you’d see a sign “NO WEIGH-IN REQUIRED!” Of the Airport itself, it would say, e.g. Mos Aspley Airport. NO RUNWAYS REQUIRED!
    IF you’ve got the Technology, USE IT!
    DON’T be Dictated to! Its YOURS! UST IT! Its a FREE World. Or it bloody SHOULD be.

  • RedneckCryonicist

    I look forward to seeing the super-rich get their flying cars. They serve an important function as futurists, in that they become early adopters of future living standards. Many science fiction writers understood this when they showed “middle class” people in advanced future societies who owned vast estates, private spaceships, staffs of robotic servants and so forth. These middle class people probably aspired to owning entire planets like the super-rich characters in their fictional societies. Vernor Vinge portrays future living standards like this in some of his stories, for example.

  • SG1_Guy

    The first car was stupid, impractical, expensive, and you had to be mechanically gifted to keep it going.
    The first airplane? The history is well known. Even the pioneers were prone to getting killed in their inventions.
    Same is true for pretty much every technological achievement in human history.
    And as seriously dumb as I think the idea of flying commuters really is, and I hope it never happens, the Concept should still be explored with vigor.
    I think the idea of George Jetson buzzing in to the office is pretty unlikely for centuries to come. But the technology could well spawn something far more useful and practical.
    And, there is no such thing as “Moore’s Law”. It was an Observation of the growth of semiconductor power over time. It is not carved in stone, and has only prevailed this long by very creative interpretation of the power of existing electronics. (Just sayin’…)

  • bwana

    Neat idea and design… I’ll believe the practicality when I see it flying/driving.

  • donl

    Oh good not enough accidents as is ..lets see flying car driver texting ..mid-air crash that kills them and whoevers on the ground below..

  • Ron Thacker

    “Gee. How exciting.” He said sarcastically. In the 50′s, “they”
    predicted we would have flying cars by the 80′s. I was really looking
    forward to that.

    I could get one now? For $280,000? On a
    retired teachers income? I don’t think so! If I’m still around in 8 to
    12 years “they” will probably say that I’m too old to fly. Actually,
    if I’m not around, maybe I will be flying.

  • K_S

    when does it come out

  • melbrant

    To do this type of flying, the entire airspace needs to be under a central control. Joe and Jane Doe do not have the background to use the airspace. However this can be handled with our present technology.

  • panamclipper

    Most ludicrous concept I’ve seen, people are severely challenged to operate in 2 dimensions, let alone 3. Imagine the conflicts with airline traffic and other people buzzing around in their flying toys who don’t have clue what they are doing, like most drivers on the roads today.

  • A. Granville Fonda

    The wings are too small by far. They are less than 1/4 as large as any small private airplane ever seen, especially with 2 to 4 passengers. The only “flight” possible for it is one of the imagination. Was the press release dated April 1?

  • http://www.maketime4massagebodyworks.com Colleen Duncan

    This was supposed to be out by the fall of this year. Why suddenly “in 10 years”?

  • pcrengnr

    This looks like a shuttle from Star Trek Next Gen. Hmm I wonder where they got their inspiration from. LOL. That is a great looking machine. I wonder what Paul Moller has to say about it. He’s been at this for a long time and has a great machine too. But not ready for primetime yet. He has more lift redundancy than this design. He knows that things can and will go wrong so prepare ahead of time.

    Now for where I think transportation should go. Hovercraft. Not as fast a flying craft but a lot safer. It glides along on a cushion of air like an air hockey puck. Not as fuel efficient as a car but more efficient than any flying machine.
    So, why go in this direction. It is the cost of the current infrastructure and maintenance. Roads ain’t cheap, to build or maintain. If we used grassy paths instead of roads we would get our fuel costs back plus be able to assist the purchase of a new hovercraft just from the road savings alone. The new roads could be over any terrain (water, streams, rivers, lakes meadows etc.). The new roadways would need railings for certain turns but we currently already have guardrails. These could easily be adapted for hovercraft use.

    To afford better maneuverability in an urban setting drop down the wheels and now you can precisely park your hovercraft.
    Another benefit is that roads cause a lot of solar heating. That dark surface is a lot hotter than grass. Trading grass for asphalt would help the climate as well.

    So, in conclusion hovercraft with retractable low speed wheel systems are the best future for personal and commuter transportation. That is what this writer believes.

    So, if you’re still reading to this point pass this message forward. Write to your congressman and senator.
    Have a great day.
    Paul

  • Reg

    Is it fun to drive? Is it even driven? Or does it drive you? “Performance” is what drives (literally) early automotive adopters.

    I can hear the critics now: “Drives like a helicopter! Flies like a truck!”

    That’s what did in the amphibious cars.

  • Don’t Even Try It!

    There could be one hell of a police chase scene…kinda like “Bullet” in the air ;-)

  • http://blogs.discovermagazine.com William Stolley

    Great idea – no one’s ever thought of this. Wait a second! In fact, every seven years or so, someone – usually very intelligent – comes out with their version of the flying car. I can’t begin to tell you how many incarnations I’ve seen in my lifetime. They either make a decent flyer and terrible car or both. If you want to fly, buy a good plane. However, if you’re thinking I’m against innovation, think again. I campaigned for the flying car whose wings folded back into the fuselage version about fifteen years ago. We were all pumped up about it and the stated cost at the time came in less than a hundred thousand.
    The problems in bringing this product to market come in two major aspects – production up front costs (literally in the hundreds of millions in venture capital) and marketing the vehicle. One writer had it correct. Imagine the sky filled with personal flyers and the liability of what happens when the first one crashes into a school yard or a retirement center or a stadium full of people. As things are now, a pilot’s license requires so many hours of flight time, knowledge of flight dynamics, etc. It would be fun to have a flying car. It would be fun to have a robot. It would be fun to have a house filled with electronic gadgets – fun for some. Logistical nightmares for the realists out there. Flying cars can be hazardous to those on the ground. Robots break down when you sneeze at them. A house full gadgets means you love your repairperson with an endowment.
    A future solved by technology is a short-sighted way of saying there is only one way to solve the problems of moving people around in a safe and expeditious fashion. Try going back to the drawing board and make safer roads and safer drivers who use them.

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