Last year we brought you a story of the old concept car “of tomorrow” that futurist had been promising for years. Unlike its predecessors these flying cars would be able to efficiently travel for hundreds of miles without ever touching the ground. And now in 2012 that time will finally be here. But is it already too late as plans for a new “hover cycle” are in the works in Australia? It’s a welcome competition as we gear up for the future which may be looking surprisingly bright for transportation as Terrafugia‘s transition has been approved for roads this year.
The Terrafugia was a long time coming, and took even longer to get “off the ground” so to speak once it had been designed. And as the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration scrutinized the system’s ability for on-road travel, ensuring it would be safe for those who wished to take this air car on the road, there were more than a few holding their breaths. And after an exception, the Terrafugia finally overcame one of the final hurdles to become airborne (and road ready). Of all things, it was the tires that needed special attention. Aircraft tires and vehicular tires, though they may look incredibly similar are not made for the same type of travel. And as a result, the wheels themselves would have to go one of two directions in their design.
First, there is the option of having yet another transformation take place as the vehicle landed and wished to drive home. This would take up precious time and increase the overall weight of the vehicle making it less efficient for driving, but also driving up the cost of the vehicle ultimately. Then, there was the option of going with a fusion of the two tire types and trying to get the NHTSA to make a special exception. Terrafugia took the second option and it paid off. This is good news for those hoping the vehicle would be on the roads (and in the air) by 2011. As it stands, it may not be road worthy for another year. But it has become more than just a concept, according to designers.
Of course the Terrafugia may be looking at some competition, however, as a far cheaper Hover Bike by Chris Malloy has been put on the table. The hover bike, which is still in its testing phase and has not yet flown without being tethered to the ground by safety harnesses, is expected for several applications including military and maintenance ones. In the end, the hover bike could be the answer to Terrafugia’s more expensive airplane that can also drive – if it succeeds.
Imagine the world we may be living in after 2012 where flying vehicles slowly become the norm. And while it may seem like an overwhelming and unrealistic dream today, technology can change the world overnight – both for the worse and for the better.