Thursday, February 16, 2006

MIT Grads Shows Off Flying Car

Graduate students at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology will try to take an idea and make it in to a real world product: the flying car.

Terrafugia, a start-up created by Lemelson-MIT Student Prize winner Carl Dietrich and colleagues at MIT's Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics, is aiming to show off what it calls the Transition Personal Air Vehicle, an SUV with retractable wings, to the EAA AirVenture Conference in Oshkosh, Wis., at the end of July.

The vehicle is set for 100-500 mile jumps. It will carry two people and luggage on a single tank with premium unleaded gas.

No complete prototype exists yet, but the company has a one-fifth scale wind tunnel model (along with computer simulations) and will use the $30,000 from the Lemelson prize to build something to show off at the Oshkosh show. A fully operational prototype is expected to come out in 2008 or earlier, according to the company, while Transition vehicles are expected to hit the road, and the sky, by 2009 or 2010.

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