The year 2000 came and went with no sign of us ever getting our hands on our own personal flying car. The ball fell in 2001 and no hover-cart wheeled up to serve drinks while an all-robot band played “Auld Lang Syne” in the background. The robot wars hadn’t begun in 2003, and by 2004 there was still no sign of that technologically advanced future world. Or was there? For years it had seemed that computer technology would get exponentially better and more advanced as computer processors became smaller and more powerful. Soon there was talk of a computer processor that would be so small that it would be able to be sprayed from a can, and interconnected with other computer-matter. A robot came out from Boston Dynamics that when viewed walking, looked almost exactly like a computerized headless animal. Talks are finally beginning of a serious program to actually send people to the moon for extended periods. For the first time robots were being deployed into hostile combat zones by troops in Iraq, and killing, rather than simply disarming bombs and doing reconnaissance. And now it seems that the Federal Aviation Authority is cooperating with science fiction to create the symbol of the future that we have all coveted since we first laid eyes on the stylized streamlined pictures of the “World of Tomorrow.” I am talking of course, about the flying car.
The Transition, created by Woburn, Massachusetts corporation Terrafugia, is the first fully functioning land-air hybrid to gain mainstream attention. The car recently completed its first air-run successfully and appears to be ready to go on the market in 2011. The car runs on gasoline just like any other, but if you take it to a landing strip or airport, you can take off and soon be soaring to your destination. The way the Transition makes this possible, is by folding wings to its sides with the same method a convertible uses to cover and uncover its top. One simple switch would be utilized for vehicle mode and air mode. Retired Colonel Phil Meteer test piloted the Transition, giving it a positive review, “I would like to keep flying this Proof of Concept vehicle, but it makes sense to move on to the Beta Prototype.” While only the first model, and a proof-of-concept model at that, The Transition is capable of carrying two passengers and a load of luggage and/or cargo in its SUV-like interior. The range of the vehicle’s flight is expected to be up to around 500 miles before having to land and refuel.
Of course passengers who wish to fly the air-car will still have to be certified by the FAA, but this certification may soon become easier to acquire if air-craft are being mass-marketed. A new infrastructure may spring up from this entirely, if the Transition really does prove to be a new way of traveling. For example, will there be an overhaul of air-traffic control if the skies become more crowded with single or two-passenger planes? Will air-ports become casual affairs, trading in years of tradition and culture for a new brutally efficient drive-thru mentality? Will there be public-transportation options eventually, replacing the over-priced travesty of convenience and dignity known as the passenger airport? If you want to get your hands on the first line that will be coming out in 2011, start saving now. Unfortunately, as with any new technology, the first model is very expensive at around $200,000. According to the site, they are accepting refundable reservations for the vehicle’s release in 2011, and when that day comes, “Welcome to the Future. Here’s your flying car.”