Terrafugia TF-X

Terrafugia's TF-X flying car will be capable of vertical takeoff and landing

Adam Morath
Flying-car maker Terrafugia has revealed plans to develop a hybrid-electric roadable aircraft. Similar to Terrafugia's Transition flying car, the TF-X will feature folding wings that enable it to be driven on the road; however, unlike the Transition, which requires a runway for takeoff, the TF-X's tilting dual rotors will allow it to ascend vertically like a helicopter.

Liftoff is powered by twin 600 horsepower "motor pods," featuring 16 electric motors each. Terrafugia says a megawatt of power will be used to raise the vehicle off the ground, at which point the rotors shift forward and the propellers fold for cruising. Once airborne, a 300 horsepower engine will power the vehicle up to 200 miles per hour for an estimated 500 miles. The aircraft is capable of carrying 4 passengers and will be street-legal for road driving.

The TF-X will feature an automated flying mode that will avoid collisions, poor weather, and automatically land the vehicle. In case of an emergency, the TF-X will notify authorities and the pilot can deploy a full-vehicle parachute.

Terrafugia TF-X

Terrafugia anticipates that learning to fly the TF-X will take only a few hours for the average driver, as operation in the air is similar to steering a car. The company says operating the TF-X "should be statistically safer than driving a modern automobile."

Although the promise of a convenient flying car appears closer than ever, this Jetsonian car of the future may still be several years away. Terrafugia expects development of the TF-X to last 8 to 12 years. And it won't be cheap when it finally arrives. The company predicts that the TF-X "could be on-par with very high-end luxury cars of today."

Key word: could.