The future is ‘Wow!’
Carl Dietrich tells Watertown Middle School audience about Terrafugia and flying cars
December 19, 2015 • 671 views
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In every person’s lifetime, they have dreamed about having super powers, maybe breathing under water, maybe super strength, maybe flying. Imagine soaring through the sky, high above everybody and everything down below.
The Terrafugia Transition is the first step.
On Oct. 7, 2015, Carl Dietrich came to Watertown Middle School and described his project to an auditorium full of students. He previewed the amazing fantasy that is coming to life.
The first vehicle the company created is the Terrafugia Transition. The Transition is a street-legal airplane which has been designed to fit in a single-car garage, be safely driven on the highway, and be flown in and out of general airports. It was designed to bring a new level of freedom, flexibility and fun to personal flying.
“We want to make a vehicle that anybody could get into and fly because there are only 600,000 pilots in the United States, about 22 percent of the population. But what about everybody else?” he said.
Dietrich grew up in the San Francisco Bay area, where he first began interested in flying at age 8 and his interest only grew in middle school. When he graduated high school he traveled to Cambridge to go to school at MIT. He ended up continuing to work in the Air and Space Department for 12 years until he began his own company along with other co-founders.
Terrafugia is a company that focuses on the idea of combining flying and driving in a new and practical way. They are focused in Woburn, and currently has 33 employed people.
Terrafugia started as a small side interest but quickly became a growing company that already has $30 million in orders!
But even though Terrafugia has so many investors and people interested, it will still take a very long time to create each vehicle.
“These things are made in such small volumes, meaning you’re making them by hand, so you’re putting a lot of labor into building one, there’s actually two person years of labor in each one of these vehicles,” Dietrich said.
The Terrafugia Transition may sound unbelievable to some, but still in the design stage is an even better, futuristic vehicle called the TF-X. The TF-X will be a self-flying car, so all that you will have to do is tell it where you want to go. The rest of the work is up to the flying car.
Unlike an airplane or the Transition, you don’t need a long runway for takeoff or even an airport hanger to keep your aircraft. The TF-X will be able to take off vertically from a level clearing, and will have a non-stop flight range of at least 500 miles.
When the weather is too intense for flight, the TF-X will allow you to reach your destination on time, by converting into a car and driving on roads, highways, etc.
It will be able to seat four people, like a car, and will fit into a standard single-car garage. The TF-X will be able to recharge its batteries either from its engine or by plugging into electric car charging stations.
One of the features of the TF-X is always giving the driver the final decision of when and where to land. If you don’t want to land at a certain destination or at a certain time, you simply tell the vehicle.
The TF-X is still in the early stages of development, with a production date estimated at 8-12 years in the future.
At the assembly, all the kids clapped and cheered excitedly as the video of the TF-X flying ended. It was so popular, if it had been open for purchases right then, almost everyone would have bought one.
“Today there are a bunch of other concepts out there because technology has advanced quite a bit since the 1960s,” Dietrich said. “We’re really excited to be a part of that community that’s recognized that the technology and regulatory timing has changed sufficiently to make this old idea worth investigating seriously again.”
The kids and teachers were very excited by the end of the assembly. When Terrafugia’s products finally come out in the next few years, many people will be interested in purchasing their own Terrafugia Transition or TF-X.
–Dec. 18, 2015–