Meet the Terrafugia Transition: that is, the first flying car to ever get government approval. After decades of dreaming (and dozens of failed attempts), we might actually be getting close to having that dream of the future, a flying car.
But why haven't we had a flying car before? Well, we have, sort of. The idea of the Terrafugia is not new; in fact, the first “roadable aircraft” to successfully fly, the Arrowbile, took wing in in 1937. Ford thought it would be possible to design, mass produce, and sell a flying car in the 1950s, which is why so many of those old-fashioned “visions of the future” have Mom and Dad in a flying hatchback. (We assume The Jetsons had car insurance on their flying vehicle.) The problem isn't really the technology, per se ... it's how you manufacture it, how legal it is, and how you sell it to your customers.
Concern #1: Safety Unlike driving, which is fairly simple to learn and to perform, piloting an aircraft is far riskier; it requires more training, more time behind the wheel, and more paperwork, not to mention a special license. And as any experienced pilot can tell you, the minute you get in the air, no matter how experienced and well-trained you are, the risks go way up. Even a low-altitude airplane crash is more dangerous than your typical car accident; there's more momentum, more weight, and more height. There are real concerns about more and more pilots getting into the air: it's making the sky a more crowded and more dangerous place.
Then there are federal car safety standards, first implemented in the 1970s: a flying car would have to fit both car and aircraft safety specifications. Transition, in fact, is the first company to fit those criteria since the 1970s.
Concern #2: Traffic Just like on the ground, there are places you're not allowed to go and certain “rules of the road” you have to follow. Everyone would need to be trained on how to “fly” properly. We’d all be taking driver’s ed again.
Also, how would we ensure that cars in the air are going in the right direction and relating properly to the other flying vehicles? Today, flight plans are filed with your local airport. But how would that be handled with millions of people in the air at any given time?
Concern #3: Selling These Vehicles It's not that there's no market for a flying car: a roadable aircraft is actually something that would be welcomed by, for example, rescue personnel in rural areas, who could fly a seriously injured patient directly to the hospital instead of having to take them to a clinic or hospital and arrange an airlift. It would also be welcomed in more rugged areas with settlements far apart from each other.
Still, the brass ring is selling these vehicles to the general public, and that's difficult to do: how many people want to deal with both the FAA and the DMV at the same time? As a result, the economic incentives just haven't been there … yet.
But, now, Terrafugia might have conquered at least some of that. If nothing else, we might have a safer future with cars that can fly us to doctors and connect us more closely than ever before. And that's always worth dreaming about.
If you need car insurance, check out SafeAuto.com.
Image Credit: http://www.terrafugia.com/images/photogallery/logo/Terrafugia_Takeoff.jpg
Tags: safe auto, safeauto, flying car, terrafugia transition
Auto Insurance | Innovation
Look, geeks have to drive just like everyone else. But most of them want to pimp out their ride in style. That’s right, geek-style. So we went on the hunt to find the awesomest geek accessories you can get for your car. No one likes commuting all that much, but if you can help personalize the experience, then all the better. So let’s get down to automotive geekness, shall we?
10. Super Grip Dash Pad
Keep your gear all in one spot with this pad. It’s a much better solution for your gadgets than the sticky residue from old Mountain Dew bottles laying around to keep things in place. Whew!
9. Android Car Diagnostic Kit
Now you don’t have to go to the shop every time you get a “check engine” light in your car; you can check it yourself! What a relief!
8. Star Trek Fish Emblem
Show some intergalactic love for warp speeds and photon torpedoes with this shiny fish (or Enterprise) shaped ornament. You’ll have people riding your tail totally confused.
7. USB Power Adapter
In an ideal nerd world, every receptacle would be in the shape of USB – outlets, connectors and even faucets. Until that day comes, however, we’ll have to settle for an adapter.
6. Biometric Car Security System
Concerned about your car getting stolen? With this baby, you’ll have no worries. You should even be able to save on car insurance by having one of these on board.
5. Will Work For Bandwidth License Plate Holder
In need of more flow to get those awesome YouTube clips to play in HD without buffering? Yeah, you know who you are. Show it off with this accessory.
4. Linux Sticker
Ain’t nothing better than the real thing. You’ll throw tones of people off by making them think you have love for some strange and far-flung airport code. Sweetness.
3. Cassette MP3 Player
Some cars still aren’t quite fitted for this digital age. That’s what this puppy is for. So throw some Foghat MP3s onto a spare SD card, use your car’s tape player and jam out like there’s no tomorrow!
2. In-Car Microwave
Who needs drive-thru? With the WaveBox microwave oven, you can eat Hot Pockets on the go by just plugging this thing into your car’s power outlet.
1. Infrasonic Field Wave Pulse Generator
Price: Unknown – but probably expensive
This may be the geekiest of gadgets for your car (look at the name). What does it do? Little is actually known, but it’s probably a really advanced radar detector of some type.
Tags: accessories, geek
Did you know that the fewer cars that get stolen, the lower your insurance will be? Now that you know that, you probably would like it if there were also fewer car thieves out there on the prowl. But with these technologies, there soon will be.
Next time you’re in the market for a vehicle, consider some of these options. As an added incentive, they may even get you breaks in your car insurance – pretty cool, huh?
Nissan Vehicle Immobilizer
The Vehicle Immobilizer system is a factory option that uses a chip embedded in the keys of a Nissan or Infiniti vehicle. If a key is inserted into the ignition that does not have this chip, then the vehicle will no longer start, regardless of whether the chip-embedded key is inserted or not. This is to prevent thieves from rigging the ignition column, and basically makes them do think twice before boosting a Nissan or Infiniti model. It will also make you think twice before you put your key in the ignition, because if you put the wrong one in, you’re in trouble.
LoJack has been around for a long time, and it works. The core technology is an aftermarket GPS transmitter that’s hidden inside a car. If it gets stolen, the police are able to track its whereabouts twenty-four hours a day. The folks at LoJack say that stolen cars with LoJack devices are frequently returned to their owners within hours. High-tech thieves can now find the transmitters, since they have radio signals and a battery, but the work involved in doing so certainly makes your car safe from most common criminals.
This is a factory option available for GM vehicles, and for some models it comes standard. It’s essentially a safety and anti-theft device, where you call OnStar for help, and it detects if a car has been in an accident. OnStar also provides vehicle location services via GPS, should your car get stolen. Another anti-theft option with OnStar is something called the "Stolen Vehicle Slowdown System.” This allows law enforcement to limit the usage of the accelerator once they’ve tracked down a jacked car. Because nothing’s more satisfying that watching the criminal who stole your car try to make a hasty escape on foot.
Tags: car care, lojack, onstar
Innovation | Safety Tips
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