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Terrafugia's flying car - front viewIt's just a scale model now, but the Transition "personal air vehicle" could be scooting through the air in just a few years. That's the goal of start-up Terrafugia, which is aiming to produce a fully operational prototype by 2008 and at least a few production models by the end of the decade.
Terrafugia has a healthy helping of MIT cachet--and cash. It's a project of MIT grad student Carl Dietrich and colleagues at the school's Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics, and is starting out with $30,000 from the Lemelson-MIT Student Prize.
Flying car - top view
What kind of gas mileage should we expect from a flying car? The Transition should get 30 miles a gallon in the air, Terrafugia says--even as it hit speeds of 120 miles per hour. Its payload is expected to be about 430 pounds, which should be enough for two adults and a couple of overnight bags.