When Slate first reported the vehicle was headed to a “garage, street, highway, airstrip, or sky near you” in 2011, the aircraft’s Massachusetts-based manufacturer, Terrafugia, hoped its TF-X would hit the skies the following year. It may be running late, but it’s still very cool. The FAA clearance is for an unmanned, miniature version of the craft, which is about one-tenth of the size of the planned production model.
As the TF-X hits the road, its bullet shape and black-and-white color scheme make it resemble a mechanical penguin, minus the flightless part. The TF-X doesn’t require a runway, so when you’re ready to lift off, side panels open and what you might mistake for an archvillain’s cruise missiles become visible. Be calm: These are just wings. Twin helicopter-style rotors at the tips of the wings have a megawatt of power at their disposal for lifting the TF-X into the sky.
Once the TF-X is aloft, electric engines teamed with a 300-horsepower engine provide power. The rotors fold back, and a ducted fan pushes the TF-X through the blue. It has a cruising speed of about 200 mph, with a range of about 500 miles.
Terrafugia says the miniature test version the FAA approved will help it speed up R&D on the full-size roadster.