We’ve long dreamed of being able to commute in a city without the long involved traffic jams and congested traffic signals. The latest visions of a flying car may take us in the right direction.
The vehicle, named the Transition has a 27-foot wingspan, which can be collapsed, allowing it to be stored in most garages.
Designed to be only 18.75 feet long and 6.75 feet high, and drivable on any road, the plane gives the pilot the flexibility to land at any number of the 5,000 public-access airports around the US and finish the trip by highway. In the air, the vehicle would give about 30 miles per gallon and on the road, around 40.
The craft can travel at a maximum speed of 138 miles per hour, carry no more than two people, and weighs less than 1,320 pounds. A Volkswagen Golf, on the other hand weighs more than 3,000 pounds, reports Discovery News.
Carl Dietrich, the MIT doctoral candidate in aeronautics and astronautics, and cofounder and CEO of the Massachusetts based company Terrafugia, who is developing the plane, said the aircraft could "travel at normal highway speeds".
The Transition, wound not only make flying more convenient, but also make it safer, he said.
"If you’re up in the air and a storm comes in … you divert to a local airport and then you keep going and fly under the weather," he said, adding that the Transition "expands fundamental travel range".
Experts have however, said that adding safety features required on a car, such as crash protection, bumpers, and lighting could easily take the Transition over the light-sport weight requirement.
"The studies that we have done basically pointed to the fact that if you wanted a fully capable flying car, the weight penalty was so severe or the cost to mitigate it so high, that is wasn’t very attractive," said aerospace engineer Andrew Hahn from NASA’s Langley Research Center.
Dietrich is however, not convinced. He recently won 30,000 dollars from the Lemelson-MIT student prize for inventiveness, and plans to put the entire amount towards developing a small concept model that the company will exhibit this July at the EAA AirVenture show in Oshkosh, Wisconsin.