A roadable aircraft, Terrafugia Transition has been granted official clearance by the US Department of Transportation and experts are speculating that the vehicle will be the first flying car to hit roads in another five years.
Terrafugia, Inc., developer of the Transition have already started rigorous crash testing procedures inorder to ensure that the vehicle meets all applicable crash safety standards. The Terrafugia is the first flying car to have received the special consideration from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) following the incorporation of the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards in the 1970s.
With a gross take-off weight of 1430 lbs or 650 kg, the Terrafugia Transition combines the unique convenience of being able to fold its wings with the ability to drive on any surface road in a modern personal airplane platform.
The car has also been incorporated with various automotive safety features like a purpose-built energy absorbing crumple zone, a rigid carbon fiber occupant safety cage, and automotive-style driver and passenger airbags.
The exemption allows Transition the usage of polycarbonate materials to provide comparable protection to the occupants at significant weight-saving without shattering. It also allows the Transition to use tires that are appropriately rated for highway speeds and the vehicle weight but are not ordinarily allowable for multi-purpose vehicles.
We further conclude that the granting of an exemption from these requirements would be in the public interest and consistent with the objectives of traffic safety, a statement by the NHTA mentions.
Besides Terrafugia, Inc., a number of companies are currently working on projects to develop full-size roadable aircraft.
California-based Scaled Composites has also developed a hybrid gasoline-electric roadable aircraft as part of an internal research and development program. Coined as Model 367 or BIPOD, the vehicle has been conceptualized by founder Burt Rutan and has already completed its initial ground and flight testing.
Check out the images and videos of the Terrafugia Transition below: