To start with, the four-seater would be capable of vertical takeoffs and landings. And since it would largely be controlled by a central computer network, the TF-X would, claims a Terrafugia promotional video, require a pilot/driver to have as little as five hours of training, a slight fraction of what it now takes to get the most basic private pilot's license.
Oh, and if that isn't appealing enough, the team says their newest flying car design would use an environmentally friendly plug-in hybrid powertrain.
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Massachusetts-based Terrafugia has been drawing plenty of attention to itself thanks to the Transition, a $280,000 flying car that has been slowly working its way through the complex product development and federal regulatory process. Less than 20 feet long, it was designed to fit inside a typical suburban garage once its 27-foot wingspan was folded up, allowing it to drive on any conventional road.
"Don't think of it as a car that flies," said Carl Dietrich, one of the MIT students now serving as Terrafugia's CEO. "Think of it as a plane that drives."
Perhaps, but beyond the ability to fold up those wings, the Terrafugia would operate pretty much like any aircraft, needing a long runway to get airborne. With the TF-X, the company is moving closer to the sort of craft one might envision the sci-fi cartoon family, the Jetsons, would own.
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For one thing, Terrafugia claims the four-seater could get airborne from a level clearing of as little as 100 feet, rotating its twin wing-mounted propeller motors to a vertical position. Airborne, they would rotate back to a conventional, forward position—much like the bigger Osprey flown by the U.S. military.