The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has selected Terrafugia as the largest subcontractor for a $65m programme to develop a four-person flyable road vehicle.

The company will work on the DARPA Transformer project, led by AAI Corporation and other Textron companies.

The Transformer, or TX vehicle, which functions like a Humvee on the ground, provides helicopter-like mobility and is intended for use in medical evacuation, avoidance of improvised explosive devices, remote resupply and Special Forces insertion missions.

“The result will be unprecedented capability to avoid traditional and asymmetrical threats while avoiding road obstructions,” DARPA said.

The vehicle will be able to travel 280 miles by land and air, using vertical take-off and landing to increase access to difficult terrain, and automating flight controls to enable operation by non-pilots.

Phase I of the five-year programme will focus on conceptual design of a prototype and production, while phases II and III will focus on design and manufacture of the prototype by the first quarter of 2015.

The vehicle’s design, fabrication, testing and production are scheduled in the second half of 2011.