WASHINGTON, DC (CBSNewYork) – Flying cars were once just science fiction fantasy, but now several companies are developing vehicles that can glide through the skies.
On Capitol Hill lawmakers held a hearing on the technology and found out just how close it is.
“Today we’re employing 150 employees across three locations in the U.S.,” said Anna Mracek Dietrich, co-founder of Terrfugia.
Dietrich expects her company’s flying car, called the Transition, to be on the market next year.
“I think this is a very exciting opportunity for technology to really benefit society,” she said. “I know there’s been a lot of hype around flying cars for generations really but I think we are very close.”
The street legal car would take off from an airport, but experts see a day when the vehicles hit the skies from anywhere.
Uber plans to create an airborne ride hailing service with machines that can fly themselves at speeds up to 200 miles per hour.
“We are targeting 2020 as the date for the start of prototype testing in our two partner cities in the U.S, Dallas-Fort Worth and Los Angeles,” said Dr. Eric Allison, head of aviation programs for Uber.
Members of congress says there are major challenges to address before flying cars can get off the ground in large numbers.
NASA is studying what regulations need to be adopted so the average driver can start flying.
“Assuring the safety of these vehicles for operation in densely populated urban areas will be a major challenge,” said Dr. Jaiwon Shin of the NASA Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate.
The Terrafugia transition operates similar to a plane and owners would need a sport pilot license operate it.
But the company hopes to eventually have autonomous vehicles that can pull out of the garage and take off vertically.
It could change the way we commute and bring an end to the traffic jam.