As another solution to smart transportation, “flying cars” are entering reality a little bit. Recently, Japan’s SkyDrive company’s first manned flight test was successful, its code- called SD-03 flight car circled at an altitude of 10 meters after four minutes of successful landing. SkyDrive is understood to be one of the few successful test flights in more than 100 flying car projects around the world.
Tomohiro Fukuzawa, the company’s head, said the flying car would be fully commercialized by 2023, while ensuring safety.
The smallest flying car in history.
On August 25, SkyDrive conducted its first test flight at the Toyota test site. Toyota’s test site is one of the largest in Japan and home to the car company’s research and development program. This is the first time in Japan’s history that flying cars have been publicly displayed.
In the demo video, a test pilot operates an SD-03 flight vehicle that successfully takes off from the test site.
From a distance, like the aircraft that is common in sci-fi movies, the flying car looks futurism, says Takumi Yamamot, the project’s design director, inspired by the word Progressive.
With a length of 2.9 meters and a width of 1.3 meters, the flying car occupies only two parked cars and is currently the world’s smallest electric vertical flying car.
Unlike drones, the car can take off and land vertically, without the need for long runways and landing frames, and it can also be flexible in the air.
The test flight, at an altitude of 10 meters, lasted about four minutes. It currently has a range of only 5-10 minutes, with the next stage extending the duration of the flight to 30 minutes.
The manned vehicle has been tested to travel at low speeds in the air without restraint and has a drone-like stability. The team says it hopes to reach a top speed of 100 kilometers per hour in the future.
The technology has received funding from many businesses and governments and is scheduled to be commercialized by 2023. Fukuzawa said,
“In the future, we want flying cars to be the most common and convenient means of transportation, and people will be able to experience safety, security and comfort in terms of travel.”
Unlike helicopters and electric vertical take-off and landing machines (eVTOL), flying cars provide fast point-to-point personal service, at least in principle. A successful flight would not only eliminate traffic congestion, but also hopefully solve problems such as transport in remote islands or mountainous areas, or relief operations in disaster areas.
However, there are still many challenges in safety, air traffic control, battery life, etc.
The commercial “road map” has been launched.
SkyDrive has been developing flying cars since 2012 and has received funding from top Japanese companies, including carmaker Toyota Motor Corp, electronics company Panasonic Corp and video game developer Bandai Namco.
Among them, Jim Adler, Toyota’s chairman, said SkyDrive’s highly networked, automated, multi-mode and widely available features were in line with our view of the future mode of transport.
One of our visions is to use technology to fundamentally change the way people travel on land, at sea or in the air.
The emerging electric vertical take-off and landing machine (eVTOL) industry combines expertise in automotive manufacturing and aerospace. On the one hand, it may produce a large number of relatively small vehicles, on the other hand, it involves a large number of aerospace electronics technology.
“Battery” is an important measure of the state of technology development in the industry. “We’re seeing all the changes in the eVTOL market now, mainly because of advances in battery technology, ” says one professional.
In addition, safety, noise and cost are also the focus of the current eVTOL industry development.
Early SkyDrive’s flying cars, in these three areas of the indicators are not ideal. After several years of technological upgrading, they have received a new financing this year to a total of 3.9 billion yen, including financial support from the Japan Development Bank.
SkyDrive launched its pilot aircraft in 2017.
In addition, the Japanese government has worked closely with SkyDrive and is actively developing a commercial “road map” for it. Trade Ministry official Shin Shi Dechang said they are very optimistic about the potential of flying vehicles to solve the disaster relief and transportation problems. In addition to SkyDrive, the Japanese government is also working with large companies such as Boeing, Airbus and Japan Airlines.
In addition, there is much more to the flying car market than SkeyDrive.
Kitty Hawk projects, including Uber, Honeywell, Wisk, Lilium Aviation in Germany, Safran in France and Backed by Google founder Larry Page, are also actively exploring the area.
Rolls-Royce, the British engine maker, for example, has launched a “flying taxi” programme in 2018, and Kitty Hawk has started offering test flights to would-be car buyers.
SkyDrive may not be the first company to complete a test flight, but it is the first publicly traded company to conduct an unlimited test flight.
The appearance of flying cars is inevitable.
According to relevant research, flying cars may start to provide regular services in 2023, the application scenario is mostly airports and first-tier cities for simple transfers.
By 2035, the industry is expected to be widely integrated and fully integrated with traditional modes of transport through pre-established hubs.
Kitty Hawk’s chief executive says the emergence of future flying cars is inevitable. Like airplanes, mobile phones and self-driving cars, it takes time to win user recognition, as does flying cars, but it can take a relatively short time.