Flying cars seem to be gaining traction as a popular idea, with a new flying car making its public debut at the world's biggest airshow in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. The PD2 from PlaneDriven is a modification of a Glasair Sportsman kit airplane with the addition of a separate 50-horsepower "drive unit" attached to the back.
I sat down with Terrafugia test pilot Phil Meteer to chat about flying the Transition, a car that flies. (Or a plane that drives, for all you tomato/to-mah-to types out there.) Hop on in and check it out.
When Terrafugia unveiled its flight-worthy Transition production prototype to the press at the 2012 New York International Auto Show, it was hard not to feel completely mixed. On the one hand, flying cars are about 12 years late (the year 2000 being pegged, of course, as "the future" by so many mid-century futurists), and the Jetsons-like dream the concept inspires is buried by decades of disillusionment. People already have enough trouble driving cars. Flying them? Yeah. On the other hand, you could say that what Terrafugia is showing off is a genuine flying car. It's street legal in Massachusetts. Chief test pilot Phil Meteer can drive the Transition on a regular road like a car. On March 23, he took the production prototype — which you see in our pictures here — into the air just like a plane. The name, Transition, comes from the fact that the cockpit includes controls for either modes without compromising: you drive the craft as you would a car; you fly it as you would a light plane. So, the question is: is the world ready to accept the Transition as the first true flying car? We'll have more thoughts on Terrafugia and the Transition very soon, so stay tuned. Until then, down below are photos from the unveiling with plenty of extra info.
Matt Novak, who chronicles the bright future that never was over at his blog Paleofuture, has picked apart an article published in 1952 that carried the title "Cheer Up! World Will Be Wonderful Fifty Years From Now!" Written by Henry C. Nicholas for Greenville, Mississippi's Delta Democrat-Times, the article polls intellectuals of every stripe, including Wernher von Braun, the Nazi rocket scientist who went on to become one the most important researchers in American rocketry. As one would expect, time has rendered some of the predictions here absolutely crazy (and I say that with love), but there are quite a few surprisingly accurate educated guesses, too. Take a look at the gallery below to find what 1950s futurists got right and wrong in their predictions for the year 2000.
Burt Rutan, founder of Scaled Composites (the company that is busy bringing you commercial trips to space), has just retired. But before he did, he presented one last novel design: a flying car.
Everybody wants to know where their flying car is, but let's just stop for a minute and think about what happens when everybody gets a flying car. All those terrible drivers will suddenly have the opportunity to crash directly into your house from above, and trust me, they will. The EU is trying to get a jump on the problem, with a project called myCopter.
The closest thing to a flying car that we've realistically developed are various types of drivable planes that don't fit into our futuristic fantasies all that well. If this flying car concept ever gets produced it'll finally signal that the future has arrived, especially since it's an eco-friendly gas-electric hybrid.
A world full of flying cars certainly sounds like an impossible dream, but if it did happen, wouldn't it be nice for them to fly automatically to boot? It'd be either that, or we'll all have to get pilots licenses. Carnegie Mellon is indeed working on a system to have cars fly themselves, but not just any soaring car — DARPA's Transformer.
Remember that crazy flying Humvee we showed you? You know, the one the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (also lovingly referred to as DARPA) is so interested in? Well, the design marches forth, this time with a new way to avoid danger: soaring up out of trouble.
Not too long ago DARPA put out a call for a flying car, wanting something that had all the versatility on land as a Humvee, but also had Vertical Takeoff and Landing (VTOL) capabilities. Texas-based AVX Aircraft is stepping up to the plate, and its concept looks pretty close.