Given the really lightweight of the terrafugia it would probably be a really great car with respect to gas mileage if one removed all the airplane stuff. Weight as I recall is the only first order variable in gas mileage for cars. A car this light should easily get 60 or more mpg just guessing.
The whole idea of a big heavy car or truck transporting one person to work is kind of inefficent in itself. Compare that to a bicycle. Less than 30 lbs of vehicle for a single person. Yes, it is range, comfort limited and self powered. And not so useful for other things.
What would help is a class of cars and special road restrictions (for separation from heavy traffic) that would make it attractive to have commuter cars. Very lightweight and high mileage cars for one or two people only. Low cost too. Many families have two cars already. Now we can envision 3 cars, two very small and efficient commuter types and one family car or truck.
@jmiller: I love your way of thinking and I couldn't agree more. Aiming for hard-to-achieve or even impossible-to-achieve innovations is what engineering should be all about and a wonderful lesson to teach our kids. This isn't the first time the flying car has been attempted and it certainly won't be the last.
I think quite often when a project like this is taken on the benefits are seen in many ways other than the successful marketing of the final product. Sue they migh sell a few thousand air cars. But the number of invensions that may come from the development of this product may benefit others in ways we can only imagine. Quite often the best invensions come by accident when we are trying to do something totally outside of the box.
Also, think about all of the news stories, articles and other press that are generated by something like this. When I was young I always wanted to look at all the cool articles and ideas that were being invented. It's what led me into engineering. And I think projects like this will help youngsters understand everthing isn't invented yet. There are still plenty of challenges out there.
The flying car has been attemped for decades. And the consensus is that it does not make a very good airplane or car, since there are so many conflicting requirements. Considering all the obstacles, not just those posed by the DOT and FAA, it is a miracle that the product is nearly ready to be sold on market.
Congratulations to the designers on this project, you are respected and admired by this engineer.
I am sure there will be a market for the Terrafugia.
FYI: Martin makes a gasoline powered jet pack, they had to design their own engine from scratch. Quite impressive. Will sell for 100k. Range is 31 miles, max speed is 63 mph. Has a rocket parachute in case of engine failure.
Valid points, Ivank2139. I think that's the perenial struggle whenever you're designing something that has two sets of very distinct requirements and the reason that Terrafugia petitioned the various safety agencies to get the grants and exemptions that it did. Your point about the road hazards putting undue wear and tear on the vehicle and the ramifications around safety is one to watch. Even the best simulation and physical testing will be hard pressed to uncover all the possibilities.
Not to denigrate the effort that has gone into this very interesting project but my understanding of this is that it is not a very good airplane or car. I think this points out some problems when the requirements of a design can be met but one really has to question the validity of the requirements. the fact that it can be done is one thing, should it be done is another.
This is a roadable aircraft. Is it really a good idea? Unlike an amphibian aircraft this one is exposed to road hazards which necessitate extra care in a pre flight inspection. The navy and coast Guard both operated various types of Amphibious aircraft and have lots of experience with how much it costs and the extra attention required for safety.
There is another inquiry I think by the Army or DoD in that they want some kind of Hummer size or slightly larger vehicle that can fly and travel on the ground, rough terrain I think. Again, this seems like disparate requirements that while possible to meet, result in a machine that is not very good at either flying or ground travel.
In another respect this is also perhaps what was wrong with the space shuttle. It was man rated and could carry people and cargo, but it turns out not to be as good at either. A man rated, without cargo vehicle would have been much different in design than the space shuttle and a cargo only heavy lifter would not look like the space shuttle. In both cases, meeting the requirements are possible and much better designs result from separating these disparate requirements into complementary designs rather than an aggregation.
This reminds me of the cute amphibian car from the early 1960s. It could drive into the water and become a boat. Cool looking, cool idea, but it didn't take off (so to speak). It was another design looking for a need to fill. Here's a YouTube of it.
Even given the fact that we can't use it for jumping traffic, I wonder how practical it actually is given the price and the cost. Jennifer mentioned taking it on vacation, but personnally, even if could afford it (and the fuel), I wouldn't want to be driving around on the streets with a quarter-million dollar plane. A bump in the parking lot might do something you don't see and wreck your day at 3000 feet.
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