When people talk about the future, there are probably three things that they consider to be truly futuristic: cures for all diseases (to make sex risk free), virtual reality (to make sex effortless) and flying cars (to make sex more awesome). In terms of the latter, the possibility of quick, easy and faster flight would revolutionize cities and our lives as a whole the way automobiles did in the last 100 years. We’ve been working on the idea since before the Wright brothers had their 12 second money shot in 1903, but judging by the current offerings, it might be a little while longer before we get there.
The good folks at Terrafugia have seen the future, and that future is dorky. However, they are tantalizingly close to bringing their product to market. The Transition has electronic wings that can fold up and down, requires only regular gasoline and can fly at speeds of about 115 miles per hour (requiring about 1700 feet of runway), or drive at up to about 80. Most importantly, they’ve gotten FAA approval as a light sport aircraft which makes them easy to get licences for, and have a price tag of only $194,000. Yes, only. Flight ain’t cheap, Mr. Moneybags.
Despite numerous physical prototype models and a number of cryptic statements from its creator Paul Moller, the Moller Skycar hasn’t been proven to work. Using four proprietary engines, the vehicle would be able to take off and land vertically, then fly at speeds of over 300 miles per hour at a range of up to 750 miles. The fact that they’ve been working on the design for 40 years should in no way prevent you from plunking down $500,000 to get your pre-order in now.
Urban Aeronautics X-Hawk
Urban Aeronautics provides the playbook for the wannabe flying car maker. They’ve got some vague press coverage. They’ve got a crummy website that doesn’t really tell you anything about dates or success. They’ve got a sweet teaser video with roughly one tenth the production value and CGI of your average toothpaste commercial. All they need is a splashy, minimalist ad that simply says “SOON” and it would be a vaporware homerun.
Though it looks like a dune buggy designed by Apple, the Parajet Skycar is probably able to fly most of the time. Essentially, it uses the same technology that brought us FanMan. At least it comes with a backup parachute that would probably be able to deploy in enough time to prevent another boxing debacle.
This one actually has some legit innovation behind it, having been the first “rotorcraft” to match airspeed with rotor tip speed, a problem that has been plaguing avionics nerds for some time. Essentially, this is a compact helicopter for civilians, but could reach speeds of up to 500 mph, which is unheard of. Naturally, the only prototype crashed in 2005. That’s what they get for naming it after a peanut farmer.