“Transition” is the name of a two-seater hybrid electric vehicle that can switch from car mode to plane mode in a matter of less than a minute.
Manufactured by Chinese company Terrafugia, Transition is being made available for preliminary sales as early as October, with delivery starting in 2019.
Terrafugia is owned by Chinese conglomerate Zhejiang Geely Holding Group, which is also the parent company of Volvo and Lotus Cars.
While the Transition can only do up to 100 miles per hour (160kph) in the air, it does offer a “boost” mode that can be deployed for a “brief burst of extra power while flying.”
The two-seater can fly as far out as 400 miles (640 km) before it needs to be brought back to terra firma for a recharge.
The aircraft/car is equipped with foldable wings that open out for flight mode and has a new parachute system for safety purposes, as well.
It weighs around 1,300 pounds (590 kg), has fixed landing gear, and boasts a maximum flying altitude of 10,000 feet.
According to Terrafugia, the vehicle has got some recent upgrades, including a hybrid electric motor, rear-view cameras, as well as improved seats, seatbelts and airbags.
Certified as a ‘Light Sports Aircraft’ by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in 2016, Transition also conforms to the National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration standards.
If you’re aspiring to become the proud owner of the world’s first flying car, make sure you apply for a light aircraft pilot’s permit before you take it to the air, and of course, you do need a driver’s license, as well, to be able to use it on road.
Terrafugia believes Transition should be the ideal choice of pilots who can land the aircraft at any small landing facility, switch over to car mode allowing the wings to fold in, and drive straight home – or wherever.
Next month, the company is also planning to unveil a four-seat VTOL (vertical takeoff and landing) version of the flying car, dubbed TF-X, which is expected to go on sale sometime in 2023.
“The TF-X won’t require an airport for takeoff and landing, and it will drive on all roads and highways – providing the convenience of true door-to-door transportation,” the company said in a statement.
The four-seater’s petrol engine will charge an array of batteries that will, in turn, power the propellers, as well as the wheels, making the vehicle relatively quiet.
Like the Transition, switching between car and aircraft modes will take less than a minute, says the company.
Compared to the Transition, the TF-X is an easier vehicle to fly, not requiring as much training as you would need to operate the Transition, or any other light aircraft, for that matter.
For the most part, the aircraft will be computer-controlled, allowing owners to simply pre-program a destination and sit back and enjoy the ride as the aircraft gets airborne, flies to the programmed destination, and lands – all done automatically.
There are, however, provisions for semi-manual operation of the machine as well, should the need arise.
The TF-X will also be fitted with a parachute system, it goes without saying.
The TF-X has a 500-mile (805 km) flight range and a maximum flying speed of 200 miles per hour (322kph), making it twice as fast as the Transition.
While the TF-X will be powered by a 300hp engine, twin electric motors attached to each end of the fold-out wings will allow the aircraft to move from vertical to horizontal once it’s airborne and from horizontal to vertical at the time of landing.
The batteries can be charged using the vehicle’s own engine or at a regular charging station for electric cars.
Also, the TF-X is designed to automatically avoid other airborne crafts, inclement weather, as well as no-go airspaces.
“Developing this new technology has allowed us to test several different mechanisms and generate process improvements along the way,” Terrafugia CEO Chris Jaran had said earlier this year.
“We are at the critical point where we can implement the best design features based on years of flight and drive testing,” Jaran had gone on to say, adding that it would “improve function, safety and aesthetics for the optimal flying and driving experience.”
Meanwhile, Zhang Yangjun – a professor at the Department of Automotive Engineering, Tsinghua University – has said that “flying cars will effectively tackle traffic woes and will definitely have a huge impact on society, the economy, safety and the environment.”