How many times have we been stuck in traffic and wished there was a way to get around the gridlock? If you’ve ever driven (or tried to) on GA 400 around Atlanta, you know what I mean. During the busiest commute times, you creep along in traffic so slowly that your GPS goes into pedestrian mode. But never fear.. help is on the way.
Several companies are coming close to launching their answer to the traffic frustration. Yes, it’s the flying car. No longer just some wild fiction from “The Jetsons” or “Back To the Future”, Airbus and Terrafugia are two companies that have prototypes in testing to take us where no one has driven before.
This new mode of transportation has the backing of some tech leaders. The founder of Google,Larry Page, has invested millions with two start up companies to develop this technology. Even Uber is getting in on the action. The company has been eyeing self driving cars so it is logical that they’d be interested in being one of the first to use flying cars in their taxi type service.
While it might seem like the answer to easing congestion on our roads, it does have issues of its own. I’ve seen how crazy people can drive on current roads. Can you imagine trying to direct traffic in the air with no lanes or traffic signals to keep everyone in check? And how do you get a speeding ticket in the air? I wonder if there will be places to pull over if you get stopped for a traffic violation in the sky.
So now that you’re all excited about parking one of those in your garage, let me give you the bad news. Airbus plans to test their Vahana prototype by the end of 2017. It appears their vehicle will be geared more towards mass transit rather than personal use. But don’t lose hope, Terrafugia had over 100 orders and expected to start shipping orders of their Transition “car” in the second quarter of 2016.
I hope you’ve been saving because the Transition comes with a price tag of $279,000. For your money you get a two-seat vehicle that can fold up its wings, just like putting the top down in a convertible car . It will fly with a cruising speed of 100 miles per hour or driven on the road at a highway speed. You’ll be able to park it in a single car garage just like your car. When you need to refuel, you can use automobile gasoline. Can you imagine the looks you’ll get when you pull up to the pump?
One would think that special training would be needed to fly one of these vehicles. To fly the Terrafugia Transition, you’d need a sport’s pilot’s license which requires at least 20 hours of flight time to obtain. For those who want to avoid all that, you might want to wait for the TF-X . Operators will mainly need to know how to interface with the vehicle, whether it’s to safe to take off or land and what to do on the event of an emergency. If there was an emergency, operators would be able to activate a parachute system for the entire vehicle by pulling a handle.
For most of us this will be something to dream about. Unfortunately, the TF-X is about 8-12 years away from launch so for now it won’t go on the Brendan Spaar wish list. Until then, keep your eyes on the road…and the sky!