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

On Everest, Helicopters Rescue Stranded Climbers

Choppers transport some of more than 100 mountaineers trapped after deadly quake, avalanches More

Video Ten Years After Riots, France Searches for Answers to Neglected Suburbs

In 2005, a Paris suburb exploded into violence after two teenagers were electrocuted as they hid from police; since then, somethings have changed, others not More

US, Japan Announce Historic Revision of Defense Cooperation Guidelines

Nations say new guidelines will be 'cornerstone for peace and security' in Asia-Pacific region while also serving as 'platform for a more stable international security environment' 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.
‘Angel of the Migrants’ Helps Desperate Syrians Arriving in Europei
X
Henry Ridgwell
April 26, 2015 10:36 PM
Waves of migrants are continuing to arrive on the shores of southern Italy from North Africa. After their dangerous journey across the Mediterranean, they face an unknown future in Europe. In the Sicilian city of Catania there is an activist dedicated to helping the refugees on their journey.
Video

Video ‘Angel of the Migrants’ Helps Desperate Syrians Arriving in Europe

Waves of migrants are continuing to arrive on the shores of southern Italy from North Africa. After their dangerous journey across the Mediterranean, they face an unknown future in Europe. In the Sicilian city of Catania there is an activist dedicated to helping the refugees on their journey.
Video

Video Ten Years After Riots, France Searches for Answers to Neglected Suburbs

January’s terrorist attacks and fears of more to come are casting a spotlight on France’s neglected suburbs. Home to many immigrants, and sometimes hubs of crime, they were rocked by rioting a decade ago. Lisa Bryant visited the Paris suburb of Clichy-sous-Bois, where the 2005 violence first broke out, and has this report about what has changed and what has not.
Video

Video Gay Marriage Goes Before US Supreme Court

This week, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments on whether gay people have a constitutional right to marriage. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, the case could lead to the nationwide legalization of same-sex marriage, or a continuation of the status quo in which individual states decide whether to recognize gay unions.
Video

Video Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populations

A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Data Servers Could Heat Private Homes

As every computer owner knows, when their machines run a complex program they get pretty hot. In fact, cooling the processors can be expensive, especially when you're dealing with huge banks of computer servers. But what if that energy could heat private homes? VOA’s George Putic reports that a Dutch energy firm aims to do just that.
Video

Video Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festival

Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video UN Confronts Threat of Young Radicals

The radicalization and recruitment of young people into Islamist extremist groups has become a growing challenge for governments worldwide. On Thursday, the U.N. Security Council heard from experts on the issue, which has become a potent threat to international peace and security. VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports.
Video

Video Growing Numbers of Turks Discover Armenian Ancestry

In a climate of improved tolerance, growing numbers of people in Turkey are discovering their grandmothers were Armenian. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians escaped the mass deportations and slaughter of the early 1900's by forced conversion to Islam. Or, Armenian children were taken in by Turkish families and assimilated. Now their stories are increasingly being heard. Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul that the revelations are viewed as an important step.
Video

Video Migrants Trek Through Western Balkans to Reach EU

Migrants from Africa and other places are finding different routes into the European Union in search of a better life. The Associated Press followed one clandestine group to document their trek through the western Balkans to Hungary. Zlatica Hoke reports that the migrants started using that route about four years ago. Since then, it has become the second-most popular path into Western Europe, after the option of sailing from North Africa to Italy.
Video

Video US Businesses See Cuba as New Frontier

The Obama administration's opening toward Cuba is giving U.S. companies hope they'll be able to do business in Cuba despite the continuation of the U.S. economic embargo against the communist nation. Some American companies have been able to export some products to Cuba, but the recent lifting of Cuba's terrorism designation could relax other restrictions. As VOA's Daniela Schrier reports, corporate heavy hitters are lining up to head across the Florida Straits - though experts urge caution.
Video

Video Kenya Launches Police Recruitment Drive After Terror Attacks

Kenya launched a major police recruitment drive this week as part of a large-scale effort to boost security following a recent spate of terror attacks. VOA’s Gabe Joselow reports that allegations of corruption in the process are raising old concerns about the integrity of Kenya’s security forces.
Video

Video Japan, China in Race for Asia High-Speed Rail Projects

A lucrative competition is underway in Asia for billions of dollars in high-speed rail projects. Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia Thailand and Vietnam are among the countries planning to move onto the fast track. They are negotiating with Japan and the upstart Chinese who are locked in a duel to revolutionize transportation across Asia. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok has details.
Video

Video Scientists: Mosquitoes Attracted By Our Genes

Some people always seem to get bitten by mosquitoes more than others. Now, scientists have proved that is really the case - and they say it’s all because of genes. It’s hoped the research might lead to new preventative treatments for diseases like malaria, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Bible Museum Coming to Washington DC

Washington is the center of American political power and also home to some of the nation’s most visited museums. A new one that will showcase the Bible has skeptics questioning the motives of its conservative Christian funders. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Afghan First Lady Pledges No Roll Back on Women's Rights

Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani, named one of Time's 100 Most Influential, says women should take part in talks with Taliban. VOA's Rokhsar Azamee has more from Kabul.

VOA Blogs