The car business may be struggling, but automakers aren't slowing down on innovation. This past week, an honest-to-goodness flying car made waves, a luxury car maker revealed a snazzy battery-powered ride, and researchers talked up a car that helps the visually impaired to drive. Put the pedal to the medal and catch up on those stories and more with the Buzz Week in Review.
Drive? Fly? How about both?
Humanity has been clamoring for a flying car for decades. Now the dream may become a reality. The car won't look quite as cool as the silver DeLorean from "Back to the Future," but the Terrafugia Transition isn't just a movie prop. It's the real deal. This week, the vehicle got the OK from the Federal Aviation Administration to classify itself as both a car and a "light aircraft." The light aircraft designation is important because planes with that classification require prospective pilots to have only 20 hours of flying time. Less training equals more sales. You can watch the Transition in action below. Coming to a road (and airstrip) near you for about $194,000.
Flying car in action.
A car for the visually impaired
The idea of a visually impaired person driving a car may sound like fantasy, but it's not as far off as you might think. This week, researchers announced plans to demonstrate a prototype that could allow blind people to drive a car. Really. The National Federation of the Blind and people from Virginia Tech University plan to demonstrate a technology called "nonvisual interfaces" next year. According to a buzzy article from the AP, the technology "uses sensors to let a blind driver maneuver a car based on information transmitted to him about his surroundings." Dr. Marc Maurer, president of the National Federation of the Blind said, "We're moving away from the theory that blindness ends capacity of human beings to make contributions to society."
BMW goes green
Electric cars are nothing new. But BMW's battery-powered car doesn't look like your normal, everyday eco-car. The German carmaker recently revealed sketches of the car, as well as announcements that it plans to have the car in showrooms by 2013. The car has been in development for several years, and some may have thought it was just a marketing ploy. After all, green is the new black. But, the recent demonstration went a long way toward proving BMW's seriousness about making the jump from gasoline-powered engines. Searches on "bmw electric car" quickly red-lined, and related lookups on "bmw battery car" also hit the accelerator.
Also buzzing this week...
• Chrysler announced its once popular PT Cruiser was reaching the end of the line.
• Lexus may recall as many as 270,000 of its luxury cars.
• Ford flexes its muscles. The carmaker is going to repay $4 billion in debt.