Return of the “Available Next Year” Flying Car

This year is the 10th anniversary of 2008, the year we were supposed to see flying cars in the sky.

(HT: @BillHudge)

The 12 loyal readers of this blog know that a decade ago, during the year 2008, I decided to blog about a random topic for reasons I can’t exactly recall. The topic I decided to follow was “flying cars.” This was before self-driving cars had become a thing and before @realdonaldtrump had a Twitter account — in other words, the golden age of everything good.

By the end of that year, I had written 50 items — mostly short Tweet-like items. The best part of the exercise was that it spawned a small cadre (you 12) of flying car scouts who were far better than Google Alert at pointing me to news items on the topic.

In December 2008, I tried my best to declare an end to the experiment by posting a year-end “Top 10 Stories about Flying Cars in 2008 ” that once every few years still earns me a visit from some self-flying enthusiast either thanking or trolling me.

However, despite my efforts to escape the flying car beat, one specific brand of flying car (or, at that time, a “roadable aircraft”) has never gone away.

It was from a company called Terrafugia in Woburn, Massachusetts, or, “the little flying car that couldn’t say no.” (My suggested slogan, not their’s.)

In 2008, Terrafugia said its “roadable aircraft” would go on sale later in 2008 — “cruising you smoothly on the road and through the sky.” But, alas, 2008 came and went, along with 2009 and 2010 and 2011. (I did receive this comic strip update that year, however.)

In 2014, Bloomberg had a feature about Terrafugia with some awesome video supplied by the company and amazingly similar to their 2013 video. And their delivery date was “sometime between January 2015 and March 2016.”

All of that background to say that my #1 flying car scout just pointed me to news in the Daily Mail that reports “the world’s first flying car is set to go on the market with pre-sales scheduled to begin next month…According to manufacturer Terrafugia, which belongs to the parent company of Volvo, the Transition can fly up to 400 miles (640km) at top speeds of 100mph (160kmh).”

Okay, so let’s review: In 2008, the roadable aircraft from Terrafugia was due out the following year, which, according to some quick math, was ten years before today’s year, 2018.

But I’m still a believer because the Terrafugia company actually was purchased by the parent company of Volvo. And since I’m an owner of a Volvo, I’m hoping for some type of trade in allowance around 2020.

Larry Page Thinks the Time Has Come for Flying Cars (Don’t we All?)

I do believe there will be a place for flying cars, but they will be nothing like in the Jetsons.

Bloomberg is reporting (and here) that Google co-founder Larry Page is backing two flying car startups. He’s invested over $100 million in Zee.Aero and is also an investor in a competing company called Kitty Hawk. (Love that name.)

The 12 readers of this blog know that in 2008, I decided to post items about flying cars, a topic that I thought was somewhat whimsical, but that has been a standard feature of “the future” in science fiction literature.

flyingcar2008-20081211-222926My project lasted one year and ended with my wrap-up of that year’s 10 best posts about flying cars.

Since then, however, I often get pinged by those who see stories about flying cars. And so, from time to time, I’ll post items about the topic.

For the record, my favorite “post-2008” stories are about a company called Terrafugia. Nearly every year since 2008, the company has made some sort of announcement that suggests a commercial version of their concept will be on the market “next July.” They continue to make announcements and videos.138438.strip_39

For the record, despite being a bit tongue in cheek about the topic, I do believe there will be a place for flying cars, but they will be nothing like in the Jetsons. I think they’ll be more like drones.

(Update on July 11, 2016 due to change in theme design.)

The flying car I don’t expect to see anytime soon (but I keep hoping)

flying carOne of this blog’s 12 readers (and a brother of mine, too boot) sent me a link to a story today because he recalls that in 2008, I decided to blog for a year about the technology I feel I’ve been cheated out of, as it’s been promised to me by science fiction writers my entire life: Flying cars. (That links to a year-end wrap-up of the stories I ran across during the year. And here’s a link to a Delicious list of about 50 articles I ran across that year.)

Since then, I’ve rarely blogged about flying car startups and concepts, but it’s fun when people send me items they run across.

Some of the most persistent press about flying car concepts comes from a company in Massachusettes called Terrafugia. I don’t know about their cars, but they have a great PR company working for them. Every year or so, they get coverage when they announce they’ll have a flying vehicle (or roadable plane) on the market “next July.” (I think they’ve gone through about six “next Julys” since I first heard about them.)

Today, there’s an article on Xconomy.com (a site I wasn’t aware my brother frequents) about Terrafugia’s newest idea, a self-flying car. Like everything Terrafugia describes, it sounds pretty cool. Indeed, I think it’s cooler than any internet start-up I’ve heard about lately.

However, I’m guessing it won’t be available until next July, if you know what I mean.