Images: Terrafugia's flying car

Images: Terrafugia's flying car

Summary: Forget the airborne jalopy in "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang." This start-up, with a strong dose of MIT smarts, means business.

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TOPICS: Start-Ups
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  • Terrafugia's flying car - front view

    It'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.

  • Flying car - retractable wings

    For Transition owners with garages or tight urban parking spots, the car will come with retractable wings. With the wings folded up, the vehicle will have the footprint, so to speak, of a large SUV, the company says. Yes, it will come with air bags.

Topic: Start-Ups

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