Japanese carmaker Toyota has been providing support to the Cartivator group which is composed of engineers working towards developing a flying car. Toyota Motors provided funds valuing 40 million yen (£274, 000) for the project.
Before this, primarily crowdfunding paid for the development of the so-called SkyDrive car, which uses drone technology and has three wheels and four rotors.
The Toyota-backed SkyDrive has just recently conducted its state-of-the-art flying car’s first ever public, crewed test after many years of tireless efforts put in by its engineers. The startup is composed of a team of 30 volunteers who hope that its prototype vehicle will be used to light the 2020 Olympic flame in Tokyo.
World’s smallest aircraft?
The flying vehicle measures 9.5ft (2.9m) by 4.3ft (1.3m), and the company claims it’s the world’s smallest flying car. SkyDrive flew its flying vehicle serial number SD-03 around the Toyota Test Field in the city of Toyota with a pilot at the helm.
The company, SkyDrive, said in a news release on Friday that it had completed a flight test using “the world’s first manned testing machine,” its SD-03 model, an electrical vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) vehicle. The flight time was four minutes, the company said.
According to the company, the aircraft vehicle has one seat and operates with eight motors and two propellers on each corner. It lifted about 3 meters (or about 10 feet) into the air and was operated by a pilot.
While being lifted up to 10m from the ground, the smallest flying car can achieve a projected top flight speed of 100km/h (62mph).
Alleviating traffic congestion issues: Flying cars are the future!
It’s pertinent to mention that the smallest flying car is not just of extreme utility in urban life but also very reliable – the vehicle comes with a total of eight rotors to keep the vehicle moving even if the engine fails or there is a technical malfunction while on the run.
While the test flight wasn’t autonomous, as most people might have thought, it showed that the SD-03, billed as the smallest electric VTOL (vertical take-off and landing) vehicle in the world, could work smoothly in our daily lives.
Nowadays, automakers around the world, from the US, Germany, and the Netherlands, to China and Japan, are exploring different avenues for innovation. Some are moving towards electric cars, others towards self-driving vehicles, and of-course companies like SkyDrive are striving to quell the routine traffic congestion issues by designing flying cars.
Tomohiro Fukuzawa, SkyDrive’s chief executive, said on Saturday that five years ago there were various prototypes of flying cars, usually with fixed wings. SkyDrive’s product, he said, was one of the most compact in size and was lighter compared with other designs.
In the near future, we might witness firsthand; science fiction turning into reality. Small, short-hop aircrafts that will help alleviate traffic issues in crowded metropolitan cities.
While it might take a long time before SkyDrive flying cars appear on roads (taking off) in action, SkyDrive is hoping to acquire approval for flights beyond the test field by the end of 2020. Additionally, as ambitious as it sounds, it also expects a two-seat commercial machine by 2023.
Japan already has set a target of launching flying taxis that it intends to attain by 2023. Hence, this puts the company’s objectives and their timelines in coherence with the government.