Flying cars usually come to mind when you think of some futuristic science fiction movie. The future seems filled with tales of jet packs, and flying cars, leaving traffic jams a thing of the past. New research on flying cars known as vertical take-off and landing vehicles or VTOLs shows that they may not be that far off and they also might not be as bad for the environment than once thought. The parent company of Volvo is also hard at work on the Transition which is a traditional car and a plane all in one. Read on to learn more about these two vehicles hoping to make history.

Vertical Take-Off And Landing Vehicles

Vertical Aerospace and Rolls Royce are among several companies who have been making the argument that flying cars are actually a greener form of transportation than electric cars. A study has recently been conducted by the University of Michigan showing that some vertical take-off and landing vehicles actually produce 6% fewer emissions than an electric car making the same journey over 60-miles.

During take-off and descent, the vehicles will use a significant amount of energy but over a long distance, the cursing portion of the journey would emit the same amount of emissions as a traditional ground-based car. Flying cars would also be a lot more efficient in terms of time. Without having to take winding roads, or sit in traffic, travelers could cut back travel time significantly. This alone would lower emissions.

Although these cars prove their energy efficiency on long trips, for excursions under 20-miles, the opposite is true. The take-offs and landings use so much energy, they aren’t the most efficient for shorter journeys. In the case of short trips, the point goes to electric vehicles. The vertical take-off and landing vehicles are still in the prototype stages so unfortunately, it will be some time before you can hop in one for your next family road trip.

The Transition

The parent company of Volvo, car manufacturer, Terrafugia, is far along in the stages of creating the first hybrid-electric vehicle that can transition from the road to the air. The Transition can fly up to 400 miles at speeds of 100 miles per hour. The car can transition from a plane to a car or a car to a plane in under a minute. Recently improved models include upgraded seats, a hybrid-electric motor, better seatbelts, and airbags, along with more storage space. Rear-view cameras and a parachute have also been added to improve the safety of the aircraft and vehicle.

The Federal Aviation Administration certified The Transition as a Light Sport Aircraft in 2016. Although you will need a pilots license to fly or drive the vehicle, it also meets the National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration safety standards for a vehicle. One potential consumer for this vehicle is a pilot who needs to fly, land on a runway and drive themselves or clients they are transporting to a specific destination. A pilot could take a client up in the air for a trip, land and then drive them straight their desired location all while staying in the same vehicle.

Currently, the vehicle only holds two passengers but a four-person model will be revealed soon. This model will be computer controlled so a destination can be put in before take-off. The four-person model known as the TF-X won’t require an airport during take-off or landing and it can be driven on all highways and roads. The TF-X will be able to go up to 200 miles per hour and it can fly distances up to 500-miles. The fold-out wings will have an electric motor attached to each end that will allow it to easily transition between a vertical and horizontal position. The TF-X model will be able to avoid air traffic, inclement weather, and restricted airspace through its computer system. Owners can also charge the batteries in the engine or by visiting an electric car charging station and plugging it in. If either of these cars hit the market, the future looks like it might hold a few fewer traffic jams.