SkyDrive, a Japanese flying car, has successfully completed a modest test flight with a person aboard.
The test, which took place last month at the Toyota Test Field in the city of Toyota in Japan, means humanity is one step closer to the dream of blasting across sky in a private flying car.
The video, released by SkyDrive, shows what looks like a motorbike with propellers hover a few meters off the ground for around four minutes.
Speaking to the press Tomohiro Fukuzawa, who is spearheading the SkyDrive initiative, explained that the company hopes its “flying car” will be a real-world product as early as 2023, but acknowledged that making the new tech safe was critical to a successful ‘launch’.
How many flying car projects are there?
There are around 100 flying car projects currently taking place across the world.
The technical term for a flying car is an eVTOL. An ‘electric vertical takeoff and landing’ vehicle.
While the technology hopes to corner a niche in the transportation market for fast point-to-point travel. Companies developing it envisage it as a cheap alternative to helicopter travel and see it working within an economic model similar to uber (a sky taxi rather than a personal car).
The idea is that eVTOL tech would do away with the need for airports and costly pilots. Automatically flying to pick up their customers and dropping them off where they need to go in minutes.
What is SkyDrive
Currently, SkyDrives’ prototype can fly between 5-and-10 minutes. The company now wants to push that 30 minutes which they believe will make it economically viable and allow them to export across Asia.
Of course, it isn’t just the problem of battery capacity and range that need to be overcome. If the technology were to become mainstream they would need to infrastructure changes to accommodate them and a revolution in air traffic control.
The successful flight marks a milestone for SkyDrive. Three years ago a prototype flight went poorly and the company has since spent around £28 million further developing the technology.
The company, optimistically, believe they can begin business services as soon as 2023 before widespread commercial use in the 2030s.