Tokyo-based company SkyDrive Inc. has been successful in lifting its flying car model off the ground with a driver inside.
The company first showed the successful test of the flying car model SD-03 on August 25 at the Toyota Field Test, according to the company website. A video showcasing the flying vehicle, which is called an electric Vertical Take-Off and Landing or eVTOL, was posted on YouTube on August 28.
The SD-03 model took off and circled the field for about four minutes while a pilot controlled the vehicle, but a computer-assisted control system was also used to help ensure stability and safety.
“Of the world’s more than 100 flying car projects, only a handful has succeeded with a person on board,” SkyDrive Inc. CEO, Tomohiro Fukuzawa, told Associated Press via KTLA5. “I hope many people will want to ride it and feel safe.”
“The manned flight we have achieved this time is the culmination of SkyDrive’s achievements for technical verification,” SkyDrive Inc.’s Chief Technical Officer, Nobuo Kishi, said. “We have been working on the design of electric propulsion systems, flight control systems, aircraft structures, testing, manufacturing, and introducing monitoring equipment for aircraft conditions during flight testing step by step, and with a considerable sense of speed.”
The vehicle will offer a quick point-to-point personal travel, but Sanjiv Singh, a professor at the Robotics Institute at Carnegie Mellon University near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, mentioned some of the hurdles the Japanese company may face when trying to commercialize the SD-03.
“Many things have to happen,” said Singh. “If they cost $10 million, no one is going to buy them. If they fly for 5 minutes, no one is going to buy them. If they fall out of the sky every so often, no one is going to buy them.”
SkyDrive Inc. aims to launch operation services for eVTOL in fiscal 2023, said Kishi.
The company’s project began in 2012 as a volunteer project called Cartivator. It received funding from several Japanese companies, including Toyota Motor Crop., Panasonic Corp. and Bandai Namco.
Although SkyDrive Inc.’s flight demonstration ended poorly years ago, the project saw an improvement and received huge funding of 3.9 billion yen ($37 million). One of the companies that funded the project was the Development Bank of Japan.
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