A glimpse of taxi travel in the future? Plans reveal an incredible flying car that can drop off a four-seater pod and lift off with another within two minutes
- American company Terrafugia has designed a new model of flying taxi
- The TF-2 can transport passengers both on land and in the air
- A pod merges with both modes of transport for maximum efficiency
- The detachable pod can transition from land to air in less than two minutes
Plans have been drawn up for an incredible flying taxi that could revolutionise travel.
Known as the ‘TF-2’, the futuristic vehicle can drop off a four-seater pod and lift off with another in under two minutes.
It combines a road-legal car with a flying vehicle by driving passengers from their front doors to a helipad where it then carries them to their destination.
The amazing design shows the technology that could be available to travellers in just a few decades’ time.
An incredible flying taxi concept can drop off a four-seater pod and lift off with another in under two minutes. Utilising vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) technology, the TF-2 combines a road-legal car with a flying vehicle (artist’s impression)
After recently building a new research and development facility in San Francisco.
Most flying taxis are exclusively aerial vehicles that can go from point A to point B making use of different launch pads.
This model has been adopted by companies such as Uber, who are looking to launch UberAir by 2020 and have it running in time for the 2028 LA Olympics.
Terrafugia’s TF-2 has a different approach, using two vehicles to achieve both terrestrial and airborne transportation.
Key to the design is a central pod that can be attached to a road-vehicle and a flying device.
A coach-like vehicle will carry passengers along the roads to specific locations, and take the passengers to the pick-up helipad.
Here, the ‘pod’ will detach from the terrestrial medium and attach to the plane-like vehicle.
A detachable pod locks securely into either the flight vehicle or ground vehicle. The pod can carry people or cargo
After landing and releasing one pod, the vehicle will be able to take-off again with another pod of passengers within two minutes
If built, the car would drive passengers to a pickup helipad where it would then attach to a huge twin-propeller aircraft that carries the car to its destination
Passengers and cargo will not need to leave the pod, the vehicles will be designed to merge together flawlessly
Once the changeover has occurred, it can take-off almost instantly.
Having a detachable pod would not only allow passengers to travel door-to-door without setting foot outside, it would also make for faster take-off and landing at the launchpad.
During flight, there would be a pilot on-board, but that is expected to be only a safety precaution as it would likely have advanced autonomous capabilities.
Far from a sparsely furnished economy flight, the TF-2 will be fitted with some luxury appliances.
The design will also provide an extra layer of safety, as people will not be wandering around on launch pads, instead they will never leave the relative safety of the pod
Once airborne, the vehicle will operate like any other flying taxi model. Going from point A to B making use of different launch pads
Terrafugia was recently acquired by the same company that also owns Volvo and Lotus and there has been a new research and development facility built near San Francisco
Vertical take-off and landing allows for almost instantaneous flight in the TF-2 and maximised efficiency in point-to-point transport
It will be fitted with built-in chargers, noise-cancelling speakers, mood lighting, rotating seats and touchscreen passenger controls.
Terrafugia was recently acquired by the same company that also owns Volvo and Lotus.
Although no time-frame exists for the manufacture of the TF-2, there are a couple of methods that are being considered for how it will be powered.
The company states: ‘There are two concepts under consideration: a tilt-rotor (TR) and a lift-plus-push (LPP) configuration.
‘The TR has performance advantages and the LPP has the advantage of mechanical simplicity.’
Terrafugiastates that the TF-2 is still in ‘the conceptual design stage.’ Although no time-frame exists for the manufacture of the TF-2, there are a couple of methods that are being considered for how it will be powered
It believes that a detachable pod would not only allow passengers to conceivably travel door-to-door without setting foot outside, it would also make for faster turn-around times at the launchpad
Advances in electric motors, battery technology and autonomous software has triggered an explosion in the field of electric air taxis.
Larry Page, CEO of Google parent company Alphabet , has poured millions into aviation start-ups Zee Aero and Kitty Hawk, which are both striving to create all-electric flying cabs.
Kitty Hawk is believed to be developing a flying car and has already filed more than a dozen different aircraft registrations with the Federal Aviation Administration, or FAA.
Page, who co-founded Google with Sergey Brin back in 1998, has personally invested $100 million (£70 million) into the two companies, which have yet to publicly acknowledge or demonstrate their technology.
Secretive start-up Joby Aviation has come a step closer to making its flying taxi a reality.
The California-based company, which is building an all-electric flying taxi capable of vertical take-off, has received $100 million (£70 million) in funding from a group of investors led by Toyota and Intel.
The money will be used to develop the firm’s ‘megadrone’ which can reach speeds of 200mph (321kph) powered by lithium nickel cobalt manganese oxide batteries.
The Joby S2 prototype has 16 electric propellers, 12 of which are designed for vertical take-off and landing (VTOL), which means no runway is needed.
AirSpaceX unveiled its latest prototype, Mobi-One, at the North American International Auto Show in early 2018. Like its closest rivals, the electric aircraft is designed to carry two to four passengers and is capable of vertical take-off and landing
The aircraft takes off vertically, like a helicopter, before folding away 12 of its propellers so it can glide like a plane once it is airborne.
Airbus is also hard at work on a similar idea, with its latest Project Vahana prototype, branded Alpha One, successfully completing its maiden test flight in February 2018.
The self-piloted helicopter reached a height of 16 feet (five metres) before successfully returning to the ground. In total, the test flight lasted 53 seconds.
Airbus previously shared a well-produced concept video, showcasing its vision for Project Vahana.
The footage reveals a sleek self-flying aircraft that seats one passenger under a canopy that retracts in similar way to a motorcycle helmet visor.
Airbus Project Vahana prototype, branded Alpha One, successfully completed its maiden test flight in February 2018. The self-piloted helicopter reached a height of 16 feet (five metres) before successfully returning to the ground. In total, the test flight lasted 53 seconds
Like Joby Aviation, Project Vahana is designed to be all-electric and take-off and land vertically.
AirSpaceX is another company with ambitions to take commuters to the skies.
The Detroit-based start-up has promised to deploy 2,500 aircrafts in the 50 largest cities in the United States by 2026.
AirSpaceX unveiled its latest prototype, Mobi-One, at the North American International Auto Show in early 2018.
Like its closest rivals, the electric aircraft is designed to carry two to four passengers and is capable of vertical take-off and landing.
AirSpaceX has even included broadband connectivity for high speed internet access so you can check your Facebook News Feed as you fly to work.
Aside from passenger and cargo services, AirSpaceX says the craft can also be used for medical and casualty evacuation, as well as tactical Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR).
Even Uber is working on making its ride-hailing service airborne.
Dubbed Uber Elevate, Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi tentatively discussed the company’s plans during a technology conference in January 2018.
‘I think it’s going to happen within the next 10 years,’ he said.