Flying Cars Make A Comeback

By April 9, 2012

Terrafugia's Transition flying car

Two new flying car prototypes have been making news over the past month, both taking flight for the first time utilizing different methods of propulsion. The new vehicles aim to blur the line between road and air travel, and could be hitting the market within the next few years.

A Dutch company just recently completed its first test flight for its PAL-V flying car. The car looks rather like a helicopter, launched into flight by its retractable overheard propellor and rear rotor. The flying car can reach air speeds of up to 112 miles per hour and seat two people. On land, the vehicle can reach the same speed, going from 0 to 60 mph in less than eight seconds, all at only 28 miles per gallon. What makes the PAL-V most capable as a land-to-air vehicle is that it requires very little room to take off and land, giving it access to the sky even without lengthy runways. The company believes its flying plane can help mobilize military and government agencies, courier services, and even doctors.

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Massachusetts-based company Terrafugia has been working on its own flying car since 2006. Its vehicle works on a similar concept of transition, but with a completely different design. Terrafugia is calling the flying car the Transition, which looks much more like a traditional plane than the Dutch vehicle.

The Transition was developed by MIT engineers, featuring foldable wings that allow it to drive on standard roads and seats two people with additional space for cargo. Terrafugia’s vehicle can hit similar speeds of the PAL-V, though due to its design requires more room to take-off like a traditional plane does. Unlike the Dutch prototype, the Transition is a bit closer to becoming commercially available; the company plans to put its flying car on the market beginning this year.

These new land-to-air vehicles ultimately aim to fundamentally change the way we travel. If you’ve ever dreamed of soaring over a traffic jam, or taking off across country on a whim, be sure to keep your eye out for these and other prototypes hitting the market in the next few years.

Corey Cummings

Corey is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin in Madison where he received degrees in English and Creative Writing. He currently lives in Chicago and enjoys alternately obsessing over video games that aren't out yet and crazy gadgets he can't afford.