Expect a fellow driver pacing ahead of you to spread wings and zoom into the sky. The highways in the United States are going to get a lot of variety. Luxury sedans, trucks and SUVs will get the company of pure-bred amphibian vehicles that would roll on the road and fly in the air at will.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has given the Terrafugia Transition Roadable Aircraft permission to operate on the roads.
The NHTSA approval means the flying car will have some design changes that allow it to operate safely both on road and in air. For example the authority permitted the use of a polycarbonate material for windows, as it is lighter and less prone to shattering.
A video of the flying car showed it smoothly navigating city streets, hitting a highway and zooming out into the sky while traffic moved slowly beneath it on the road.
Terrafugia Inc., the maker of the flying car, says the first roadable aircraft will be commercially available at the end of 2012. According to LA Times, a price tag of $250,000 can be expected.
Richard Gersh of Terrafugia said in February: This is an aeroplane first and foremost. The idea is you can drive it to and from a regulation airport. Fully fueled, you can fly it for a range of 400 to 450 miles.
He said the company's target is to sell 200 cars a year and that they had received as many as 100 orders by that time.
The video of the flying car makes it look more like an aeroplane that can travel on road than a car that can fly. Obviously one needs to have a valid pilot license to get behind its wheels. The company said it takes only 30 seconds for the vehicle to make the switch from an aircraft to the car and vice-versa.
A lot of people said they never thought it would fly. But we have a vehicle right here, right now that drives and flies, and converts between the two in 20 seconds, Terrafugia CEO Carl Dietrich said.
The company said last the first production vehicle will arrive only late next year, whereas initial projection was for the vehicle to hit market sometime this year. The first test flights would be expected in March of next year, the company said.