Terrafugia’s flying car set to zoom in the skies as US space authority grants approval for testing

The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has given special permission to a Massachusetts-based aircraft company Terrafugia to conduct in-air tests using its autonomous drone version of its flying car, the TF-X.

Terrafugia has been developing a flying car since 2013. The car’s upgraded prototype was unveiled back in July 2015. The upgraded version of the car had a cruising speed of 322 km/h with an 805 km flight range. It has no particular runway requirements for landing or take off.

The TF-X, which is scheduled to be tested at the US airspace is not only unmanned but also a mere tenth of the size of their actual flying car prototype. The trial run of a miniature version of the TF-X ‘in the field’ is expected to expedite the research and development phase of the actual real-life flying car.

The characteristic data specifically collected during the test run will help Terrafugia drive the future course of design of its flying cars. In addition, the FAA test run will allow the company to evaluate the hovering capabilities of the drone.

Their scale model is permitted to reach maximum altitudes of 121 meters and maximum speeds of 160km/h. While it can use US air space throughout the country, the team must be in constant communication with the all the concerned authorities at all times.

“Extensive sub-scale flight testing of sUAS [small Unmanned Aircraft Systems], along with wind tunnel testing and aerodynamic simulation, are key to refining the vehicle’s design,” Terrafugia said in a press statement.

Due to the aircraft’s unique engineering, these tests will be critical to the development of the actual TF-X flying car, reported Aero News Network. “Because of the unconventional configuration of the TF-X, it is vital to achieve sustained, stabilised hovering with smaller models before developing a full-size TF-X prototype,” they report.

If the TF-X ever makes it to market, it will have a cruising speed of 322 km/h (200 mph) with an 805-km (500-mile) flight range, and will not need any runway space whatsoever to take off and land.

The four-passenger hybrid vehicle will include rechargeable batteries that can be changed either by its engine or by electric car charging stations. It will be small enough to fit into a standard-sized single car garage. Further, it will be able to run on roads and highways, allowing a door-to-door transportation system. In addition, the flying part will be computer operated, so you need not have a pilot to drive one.

Terrafugia, on their website explains:

“When you want to go into flying mode, the wings will fold out, and twin electric motor pods on the ends will power up and lift the car off the ground using 1 megawatt of power. Two small helicopter-style propellers will provide thrust when needed, and are then folded back in when the car is cruising.”

While Terrafugia says it is looking at eight to 12 years of development for their flying car, what is keeping them on track nicely is a winning approval to get their scale model airborne.

Check out the Terrafugia TF-X YouTube video below that illustrates the upgraded prototype of the car designed to fulfill Terrafugia’s vision of future personal transportation.

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