The idea is as old as flight itself. Back to the Future, The Jetsons and nearly every other popular movie and tv show that depicts the future has shown us that roads will become all but obsolete. And while many other technological advances have come to pass we still have a ways to go before we can start dodging rush hour highway traffic through airborne commuting. Over the last few years several aviation manufacturing companies have been drafting various concepts and models, some of which have already broken ground a number of times.
Could we really be looking at the first flying cars hitting the road soon though? The race is currently on to see who can go from concept to road and air ready. Several proof of concepts have are currently logging flight hours right now like Iowa based Terrafugia's two door concept, the Transition (shown to the left), which has logged over 100 flight hours as of July 2016.
Another company that is close to release is the Slovakia based AeroMobil (shown below). Nearly all the flying cars currently in concept are STOL aircraft with autopilot features. STOL stands for Standard Take Off and Landing, meaning the car will require a runway in order to take off. The AeroMobil for example sports a pair of retractable wings and has to reach 81 mph to take off and has a top flight speed of approximately 124 mph.
The Terrafugia TF-X, which is currently in the static testing phase, is an exception as one of the few VTOL models being presented. VTOL stands for Vertical Take Off and Landing and, as the name suggests, this means that the vehicle does not need a running start to take flight. The TF-X (shown below) is reminiscent of a military aircraft known as the V-22 Osprey, which uses two parallel rotors similar to helicopter propellers to take off from a stationary position. Both models are projected to be priced in the hundred thousands and will considered luxury vehicles.
The implications of this very feasible technological breakthrough are staggering. Less accumulated emissions from traffic jams, shorter commutes, less accidents, the list goes on and on. To help mitigate some of the risks involved most of the companies that have reached the testing stage have applied for the vehicle to be recognized as a small sport plane rather than a car. What does that mean? Well for starters a regular driver's license is not sufficient qualification. Drivers will be required to go to a flight school and obtain a pilot's license which requires several thousand dollars in schooling as well as a minimum of 45 flight hours before an individual can receive a private pilot’s license. Licensure will be handled by the FAA and strict guidelines are being drafted in anticipation for the potential release in the next 24 months.
What do you guys think? Are flying cars gonna be the dawn of new age or just another fad like boat cars? Let me know in the comments below and be sure to subscribe for more on this and other tech news.