May 22, 2024

Flying Cars Allowed to Drive on Roads in Minnesota

Flying sports car company Samson Sky was a main proponent and supporter of the legislation just signed into law

Flying cars are now approved to drive to airports on state roads and highways in Minnesota.

This is the second state to approve such flying car road travel, following similar legislation passed in New Hampshire several years ago.

Flying sports car company Samson Sky was a main proponent and supporter of the legislation, just signed into law by Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz.

The Minnesota law specifies that drivers of roadable aircraft are required to adhere to the rules of the road while driving, the same as other motor vehicles.

Samson Sky, maker of the Switchblade flying sports car, has been pushing states to adopt legislation to allow flying cars like the Switchblade to legally drive on roads so they can get to an airport to take off, which is not necessarily a swift legislative process.

“It can take one to three years to get legislation passed once you get a bill sponsor, as some states only work on legislation every other year,” Samson CEO Sam Bousfield told me. “I can’t think of a good reason to be left behind.”

States that delay take the chance of missing being part of the electric aerial revolution.

“If they wait too long, their residents will be limited in the utilization of this new technology as it becomes available broadly,” said Bousfield.

To fly the switchblade, the wings swing out and the tail extends in fewer than three minutes for takeoff from a local airport, according to the company. It can travel at speeds up to 200 mph and up to 13,000 feet and requires a landing distance of 700 feet.

Samson was granted a patent for its wing-swing design by the European Union, bringing the number of patents to six for the Oregon company.

The Minnesota and New Hampshire laws relate only to the road-driving part. The flying part is regulated by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

“That process takes three to five years for a new design to be approved, and on top of that you also have regulation changes that will need to be done to allow any use of unpiloted or remotely piloted vehicles,” said Bousfield.

The maiden flight of the Switchblade took place last year at Lake Moses, Washington.

The prototype test vehicle took off and flew at an altitude of 500 feet and the craft flew for nearly six minutes before landing.

The vehicle can be registered as an Experimental Category aircraft and as a custom motorcycle or kit car on the ground, depending on local regulations.

On the ground, the three-wheel vehicle has a top speed of 125 mph with a maximum range of 450 miles.

The Samson team plans to use flight test data to finalize production engineering and build several prototypes.

The vehicle has a hybrid electric system that uses unleaded gas, and it can be fueled at a gas station.

Samson Sky said it has received more than 2,700 reservations valued at more than $5 million from people in 57 countries and all U.S. states to purchase the $170,000 Switchblade.

The vehicle needs to be flown under Visual Flight Rules (VRF) or can be customized for pilots certified to fly under Instrument Flight Rules (IFR).

Flying the vehicle would require a Private Pilot Certificate.

Chuck Martin, Editorial Director AI & IOT

Switchblade, Samson Sky, Skybrid, and Skybrid Technology are trademarks or registered marks, and are used with permission on these pages.

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