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SkyDrive Completes First Manned Flying Car Test In Japan

The flying car got one step closer to reality earlier this month when the Japanese eVTOL company, SkyDrive, completed the country’s first manned flight of an electric vertical take-off and landing vehicle (eVTOL).

The flying car got one step closer to reality earlier this month when the Japanese eVTOL company, SkyDrive, completed the country’s first manned flight of an electric vertical take-off and landing vehicle (eVTOL). Last week, SkyDrive released a photo of that somewhat historic multirotor test flight (below).

First Manned eVTOL Flight in Japan

First Manned eVTOL Flight in Japan, Image courtesy SkyDrive Cartivator

OK, it wasn’t much of a test flight, and mainly involved lifting off the ground, hovering about for a bit, then landing. So, all in all, unimpressive — especially if you’re expecting your flying car videos to involve chasing legendary sports cars around closed-course racetracks at high speeds. All the same, it’s a first step, and the SkyDrive team was happy to pronounce its “technical verification” phase complete, with the “controlability and flight stability” of the test aircraft “confirmed,” according to the Google translation of the original release.

Lest you think these guys are being overly cautious, however, consider that the only thing between the driver (pilot?) and the whirling, high RPM spinning blades o’ death are a few sheets of clear Lexan — and that these are basically the guys who brought you such non-stop thrill-a-minute scream rides as the Toyota Corolla Hybrid.

Not even any screens in this picture, courtesy SkyDrive Cartivator

That’s right, kids. The SkyDrive eVTOL is part of Toyota’s Cartivator project, and was started as a side project by a group of Toyota employees with a budget of “just” 40 million yen (about $370,000 as I type this). After showing an NEC-branded AirTaxi prototype last year, though, they’ve been able to raise at least $14 million more, which sounds a lot more like the kind of budget you’d need to get something like this off the ground (see what I did there?).

SkyDrive plans to open the order books for commercial cargo drones next month, with more ambitious, manned “flying car” demonstration flights scheduled to begin later this summer. The company plans to begin selling its flying cars in 2023, with an eye towards mainstream adoption of eVTOL technology by 2030.

What do you guys think? Is this what the future looks like, or is the project doomed as soon as the first pilot takes a 20,000 RPM whirling composite prop to the groin? You can see the company’s planned timeline for yourself, below, then let us know what you think of SkyDrive’s ambitious plans for eVTOL adoption in the comments section at the bottom of the page. Enjoy!

SkyDrive eVTOL “Flying Car” Project Timeline

Timeline from SkyDrive Cartivator

Source | Images: SkyDrive, via New Atlas.

 
 
 
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I've been involved in motorsports and tuning since 1997, and have been a part of the Important Media Network since 2008. You can find me here, working on my Volvo fansite, riding a motorcycle around Chicago, or chasing my kids around Oak Park.

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