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Flying car cleared for the road

Terrafugia

Terrafugia's Transition roadable aircraft, shown here in an artists' rendering, has cleared regulatory hurdles that make it street legal.

A flying car is being exempted from regulatory hurdles, meaning future owners of the vehicle will be able to drive it on public streets, the company behind it recently announced.

What this means is that you'll be able to legally sit in traffic with the rest of the street-legal cars, but have a slight grin as you head home from the general aviation airport where you landed after flying over traffic for the first 20 miles of your commute.


"Think of it as an airplane that drives, not a car that flies," Anna Mracek Dietrich, the chief operating officer of Terrafugia, the Woburn, Mass.,-based company that is making the Transition roadable aircraft, told me in an email Thursday.

"Once on the ground, the pilot can fold the wings on his Transition with the push of a button, drive home, and park in their garage."

The exemptions granted from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration allow the company to use windshields made of lightweight polycarbonate materials rather than heavier traditional laminated automotive safety glass and tires that are not normally allowed on multi-purpose vehicles.

The Transition's tires are rated for highway speeds and the vehicle's weight and fit in the same classification as SUVs and light trucks, Dietrich explained, but they weigh only a fraction of other tires in its class. The exemption makes this OK.

Last year, the vehicle was granted a weight exemption that allows it to be classified as a Light Sport Aircraft by the FAA even though it is 110 pounds too heavy for that rating.

The clearing of these regulatory hurdles will allow Terrafugia to begin delivery of the Transition when it is ready for commercial production next year.

One way to avoid the morning rush: fly around it. NBC's Brian Williams reports.

More on flying cars:


John Roach is a contributing writer for msnbc.com. Connect with the Cosmic Log community by hitting the "like" button on the Cosmic Log Facebook page or following msnbc.com's science editor, Alan Boyle, on Twitter (@b0yle).