News / USA

Flying Cars Closer to Reality

Terrafugia's experimental concept vehicle called the 'Transition'
Terrafugia's experimental concept vehicle called the 'Transition'

Multimedia

Vehicles that can be both driven and flown have long been a fantasy in the realm of science fiction.  But advances in technology have paved the way for just such a vehicle to enter the realm of fact.  Moreover, it could be available to the general public as early as next year.  Some of the concept vehicles were recently on display at the Experimental Aircraft Association's AirVenture in the Midwest state of Wisconsin.

Aviator Steve Saint comes from a flying family.  His father was a bush pilot in South America, where Saint spent much of his childhood.

Steve Saint
Steve Saint

"I grew up down in the Amazon jungle in the country of Ecuador where there are no roads, and down there, you either fly or you die," he said.

Saint is the founder of a company called "Indigenous Peoples Technology and Education Center," or "I-Tec," which serves people in remote areas isolated from most technology.  

To get him in and out of some of the roughest terrain on the planet, he turned to an old concept that has remained largely in the human imagination - a flying car.  Saint's innovation is called the "Maverick."

"This is primarily a car, but you can also fly it, and it only takes a couple of hours to master the flying," he said.

I-Tec's 'Maverick'
I-Tec's 'Maverick'

The Maverick can travel at speeds up to 150 kilometers per hour on a traditional roadway.  When it deploys a wing, that looks something like a parachute, it takes off, and can travel up to 100 meters in the air at 65 kilometers an hour.

It might not be very high or very fast, but Saint says the Maverick's function was the driving force behind its development.  

"People in frontier areas, humanitarian use, mission use, that's our primary focus, but we need to find a commercial market up here [in the United States]," he said.

Chief Operating Officer Anna Dietrich of the aircraft company "Terrafugia" believes there is such a market in the U.S. for her company's experimental concept vehicle, called the "Transition."

Anna Dietrich
Anna Dietrich

"We wanted to show that the same vehicle platform could fly, could drive, could fold up its wings in a reasonable amount of time under a minute, and would be able to park in your garage," she said.

The Transition is still an experimental concept vehicle, but it has flown during test flights.

I-Tec's Maverick has also achieved flight during testing.

While both are considered major innovations toward bringing the flying car out of the imagination and onto the highways and runways, some pilots and aviation enthusiasts are less than excited about the current design concepts.

"They never will be a really neat-looking car, and they will not be a real efficient airplane.  We're asking too much," says John Monnett, the founder of Sonex Aircraft, which is developing an electric-powered sport airplane.  He says the flying car concept still has major technological and aesthetic hurdles to overcome.

"It's a novel idea, and time will tell really," he says.  "Aircraft have to be built to a different standard than cars, and when you mix the two, what have you got?  Something that's mediocre."

Terrafugia's Dietrich disagrees.

"We feel like we have hit on a compromise that still meets the needs of our customers, still allows you to do more than you would be able to with either a plane or a car as two distinct vehicles," she says.

Dietrich says Terrafugia is moving forward into the next phase of developing the Transition.  The first commercially available Transition is scheduled for delivery in about 18 months, and the cost to purchase the flying car when it hits the market is estimated at about $200,000.

You May Like

India PM Modi's Party Distances Itself From Religious Conversions

BJP under fire for being slow to rein in hardline affiliate groups allegedly trying to promote Hindu-dominant agenda by luring Muslims and Christians to convert More

Anti-Whaling Group Found in Contempt of Court

Radical environmentalists who threw acid and smoke bombs at Japanese whalers in the waters off Antarctica continue their campaign to disrupt Japan's annual whale hunt More

UN's Ban Urges End to Discrimination Against Ebola Workers

Ban was speaking in Guinea on the second day of a whistle-stop tour aimed at thanking healthcare workers of the countries at the heart of the epidemic More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubansi
X
Sharon Behn
December 19, 2014 9:34 PM
For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubans

For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video Three Cities Bid for Future Obama Presidential Library

President Barack Obama still has two years left in his term in office, but the effort to establish his post-presidential library is already underway. The bid for the Obama Presidential Library is down to four locations in three states -- New York, Hawaii, and Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, each of them played an important part in the president’s life before he reached the White House.
Video

Video Cuba Deal is Major Victory for Pope’s Diplomatic Initiatives

Pope Francis played a key role in brokering the US-Cuba deal that was made public earlier this week. It is the most stunning success so far in a series of peacemaking efforts by the pontiff. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video Fears of More Political Gridlock in 2015

2014 proved to be a difficult year politically for President Barack Obama and a very good year for the U.S. Republican Party. Republican gains in the November midterm elections gave them control of the Senate and House of Representatives for the next two years -- setting the stage for more confrontation and gridlock in the final two years of the Obama presidency. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone has a preview from Washington.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.

All About America

AppleAndroid