Flying car gets off the ground

Japan's SkyDrive Inc., among the myriads of "flying car" projects around the world, has carried out a successful though modest test flight with one person aboard.

In a video shown to reporters on Friday, a contraption that looked like a slick motorcycle with propellers lifted several feet (1-2 meters) off the ground, and hovered in a netted area for four minutes.

Tomohiro Fukuzawa, who heads the SkyDrive effort, said he hopes "the flying car" can be made into a real-life product by 2023, but he acknowledged that making it safe was critical.

"Of the world's more than 100 flying car projects, only a handful has succeeded with a person on board," he told The Associated Press.

"I hope many people will want to ride it and feel safe."

The machine so far can fly for just five to 10 minutes but if that can become 30 minutes, it will have more potential, including exports to places like China, Fukuzawa said.

Unlike airplanes and helicopters, eVTOL, or "electric vertical takeoff and landing," vehicles offer quick point-to-point personal travel, at least in principle.


The SkyDrive project began humbly as a volunteer project called Cartivator in 2012, with funding by top Japanese companies including automaker Toyota Motor Corp., electronics company Panasonic Corp. and video-game developer Bandai Namco.

A demonstration flight three years ago went poorly. But it has improved and the project recently received another round of funding, of 3.9 billion yen ($37 million), including from the Development Bank of Japan.

The Japanese government is bullish on "the Jetsons" vision, with a "road map" for business services by 2023, and expanded commercial use by the 2030s, stressing its potential for connecting remote areas and providing lifelines in disasters.

Experts compare the buzz over flying cars to the days when the aviation industry got started with the Wright Brothers and the auto industry with the Ford Model T.

Lilium of Germany, Joby Aviation in California and Wisk, a joint venture between Boeing Co. and Kitty Hawk Corp., are also working on eVTOL projects.

Sebastian Thrun, chief executive of Kitty Hawk, said it took time for airplanes, cell phones and self-driving cars to win acceptance.

"But the time between technology and social adoption might be more compressed for eVTOL vehicles," he said.


Man, Asians can't even drive on the ground...

adam209 -

Man, Asians can't even drive on the ground...

If I could vote this up 1 million times I would 

Looks promising 

Look up lilium. Company in Germany that's making flying cars too. Heard Audi were looking as well. 

Let’s see if it gets off the ground with the average American in it now.

I thought they already has police riding hover bike versions of this in Saudi Arabia.

DCyrus -

I thought they already has police riding hover bike versions of this in Saudi Arabia.

Thats magic carpets your thinking of.

1 Like


Meet George Jetson-san

 Of course the first one has an outlandish spoiler.

If this ever becomes a mainstream reality they are going to have to make it so they self drive (or fly whatever the term). If not people are going to have these things smashing into their upstairs bedrooms.

I didn’t see a car. Just a small hover craft.

that’s just a big drone.