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Jetsons, Here We Come: Terrafugia Takes Step Toward Building TF-X Flying Car

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Terrafugia TF-X

Terrafugia TF-X
Image: Terrafugia via Youtube

Hey everyone, break out the dog walking treadmills and robot maids, because here come flying cars.

Well, eventually. I mean, there’s no rush on the robot maid. Feel free to take your time, is what I’m saying. Like, 8 to 10 years worth of your time.

However, despite the long time frame, flying car manufacturer Terrafugia has taken a large step forward toward producing distributable versions of its TF-X flying car by receiving permission from the US Federal Aviation Administration to run in-air tests of an autonomous drone version of the TF-X.

This is great news for Terrafugia, since having the ability to test the TF-X in real airspace is expected to greatly boost the research and development of the flying car. Sadly, the flying car is still some ways off, as Terrafugia’s testing model is both unmanned and one tenth the size of the actual flying car, but this, too, makes sense—due to the design of the TF-X, if something were to go wrong, you would definitely rather it happen to the smaller, unmanned, relatively inexpensive scale model.

That design can be seen here:

The TF-X is intended to need no runway, using folding propellers to provide thrust when needed, but folding out of the way once cruising. Once in the air, the car will be guided by computer so the driver doesn’t need to be a pilot to drive/fly.

The most interesting thing, though, is that this whole shebang will be powered by a hybrid engine, using rechargeable batteries that get power either from a gas engine (like some sort of space-age Volt) or from normal electric car charging stations (like some sort of space age… every EV). Terrafugia expects the TF-X to have a 500-mile flight range with a cruising speed of 200 mph.

It sounds pretty sweet, but given how far the TF-X has to go before a production model will be made (8 to 10 years of development, according to Terrafugia’s timeline), I just hope that it will sound just as sweet two and a half presidents from now.

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