Terrafugia has moved one step closer to bringing the world a flying "car."
A future of flying cars is still probably a long ways away from happening - if it ever makes it that far - but at least there’s some baby steps taking place that are heading in that direction.
Terrafugia Inc., a company responsible for the development of the Transition Roadable Aircraft, has been granted a number of testing exemptions by the Department of Transportation and has since been designated as a road-legal car.
One of the more pertinent exemptions given to the Transition is the use of tires that have been duly rated for highway speeds and vehicle weight, permitting the vehicle to use the same tires it used in past drive and flight tests a few years ago.
UPDATE 04/03/12: The Terrafugia Tradiion Flying Car will make its long awaited debut at the 2012 New York Auto Show. It remains to be seen what kind of modifications Terrafugia has done on the flying car since we last saw it so it should be interesting to see the car-plane on the New York floor.
Hit the jump for more information on the Terrafugia Flying Car as well as a list of specifications.
Another exemption granted to the Tradition was the use of its own polycarbonate windscreen. This windscreen is far different from the ones used by cars because it allows it to be sturdy enough to withstand the pressure of being airborne. It also eliminates the possibility of the glass from fracturing in high-level impacts. These set of new exemptions, as well as other such lee-ways it received a year ago, will be a boon for Terrafugia as it attempts to be one of the first brands to offer a a flying car to the market.
On that end, Terrafugia still has plenty of plans for the Tradition to undergo more extensive testing to ensure that the product meets all the safety standards that goes with a vehicle that has rarely been done in the past.
If all the safety tests are approved, the company is expected to green light the production of the car-plane hybrid, possibly as soon as early as next year. Terrafugia has stated that a piece of this one-of-a-kind hybrid vehicle will sell for around $200,000 with a reserve deposit costing $10,000.
It’s still far from a reality, but we’re certainly keeping our fingers crossed that the car finally hits production soon. Of course, we’re still wary of all the safety tests that’s going to be done on the Tradition, but if they do pass all of them, then the thought of seeing flying cars in our cities is going to take a huge leap to becoming more of a reality.
Some features in the next generation design include:
Automotive-style crash safety features including an energy absorbing crush structure in the nose of the vehicle and a rigid safety cage to protect the occupants.
A customized, intuitive touch-screen interface in the cockpit.
An improved wing with an optimized airfoil and a folding mechanism that operates smoothly and safely from inside the cockpit.
A pusher propeller with an open empennage that makes efficient use of the 100 hp Rotax 912S mid-mounted engine in flight and is locked in place when driving.
Rear-wheel drive with a continuously variable transmission (CVT) and tuned independent suspension for responsive road handling.
Max, Vh: 100 kts (115 mph, 185 km/h)
Cruise, Vc: 93 kts (105 mph, 172 km/h)
Stall, Vs: 45 kts (51 mph, 83 km/h)
Range: 425 nmi (490 mi, 787 km)
Takeoff: 1700’ (518 m) over 50’ obstacle
Gross takeoff weight: 1430 lbs (650 kg)
Empty weight: 970 lbs (440 kg)
Useful load: 460 lbs (210 kg)
Fuel burn at cruise: 5 gph (18.9 L/h)
Usable fuel: 23 gal (87L)
Mileage on road: 35 mpg (14.9 km/L)
Rear wheel drive on the ground
Automotive-style entry and exit
Two place, side by side
Automated electromechanical folding wing
No trailer or hangar needed
Cargo area holds golf clubs
Drive in case of inclement weather
Proven 100 hp Rotax 912S engine
Full vehicle parachute available
Modern glass avionics
Automotive crash safety features
80" (2m) tall
90" (2.3m) wide
18’ 9" (6m) long
78" (2m) tall
26’ 6" (8m) wingspan
19’ 9" (6m) long
48" at the shoulder
Two place, side-by-side