That flying car sci-fi always promised us? It's almost here

We've been complaining for years that we don't yet have those flying cars science fiction has always promised us. (Which makes us look awfully petty, considering all the other stuff SF never promised at all that we DID end up getting.) But a car/plane hybrid its inventor calls a "roadable aircraft" is finally just around the corner.

The Woburn, Mass.-based company Terrafugia already has customers placing $10,000 deposits for the light two-person Transition plane, which the company plans to begin producing at the end of 2011 or early 2012.

Don't think you'll be able to just take off from your own driveway, though—you'll still need to drive to and take off from an airport, where the wings will extend in 20 seconds. But before and after you get there, you'll be able to drive legally on regular roads.

So why is it taking this long to make that sci-fi dream come true? Turns out the reason more than 100 prototype flying cars failed to make it to market was less due to technology troubles and more the fault of marketing woes. It's not easy jumping through all the regulatory hoops required to be deemed worthy for both air and land, and keeping the FAA, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and other agencies happy can be an insurmountable problem.

But Carl Dietrich, one of the cofounders of Terrafugia, seems confident that they'll be the ones to get it right. Says Dietrich, "This has been just around the corner for 50 years!"

Here's hoping he's right. If I can't have that jetpack, I at the very least need my flying car!

(via Salon)

More from around the web