As automakers go, Terrafugia is a niche company. In fact, let's call it "super-niche": manufacturers like Tesla may cater to a very limited subset of buyers, but Terrafugia's target market is even narrower.
That's because Terrafugia makes flying cars. They're not as cool-looking as the rides you've seen in movies and comic books since you were a kid, but they are cars, and they do fly -- and Terrafugia's latest model goes one step further.
That model is called the Terrafugia XF-T. As you'll see in the video clip posted above, it expands on the company's existing Transition vehicle by offering helicopter-like rotors, which allow the XF-T to take off and land vertically.
According to the folks at Terrafugia, flying the XF-T "should be statistically safer than driving a modern automobile". That's in part because the XF-T "will be capable of automatically avoiding other air traffic, bad weather, and restricted and tower-controlled airspace". (Terrafugia offers no details on exactly how that technology works, so for now, we'll just have to take the company at its word.)
Some of us look at Terrafugia and shrug, convinced that this is, quite literally, a whole lot of pie in the sky. But Terrafugia appears in it to win it. Though the Transition has been significantly delayed in rolling out to consumers, it has been approved by the U.S. Department of Transportation and by the Federal Aviation Administration. In short, the Transition won't be a high-volume vehicle, but it's clearly on its way. For now, we'll assume that the company feels equally strongly about the XF-T.
Others take Terrafugia more seriously. The thought of skies filled with flying cars fills them with dread -- and maybe it should. Terrafugia says that learning to use the XF-T "should take an average driver no more than five hours". We hope that's over and above the time required to learn piloting skills, which would add a not-so-whopping 20 hours to the process (according to a cached copy of the company's FAQ page). Yeesh.
And to others, the XF-T sounds like just what the doctor ordered. If you're in that number, though, you should know that development is expected to take between eight and 12 years. In other words: cool your jets.