SkyDrive’s flying car prototype takes its first flight in Japan


It seems like a lot more companies are working on this “Flying Car” or a “Personal Aircraft” thing than you could’ve possibly imagined. It’s not just big and established names such as Audi, Porsche, Aston MartinHyundaiToyota and Google co-founder Larry Page; startups are being discovered around the world that are working on impressive VTOL aircrafts.

One such is Tokyo-based SkyDrive. The company has announced that it has conducted the first public demonstration flight of its SD-03 VTOL (vertical take-off and landing) electric aircraft; claimed to be the first public demonstration of a flying car in Japan. The demo took place at a 2.5-acre Toyota Test Field. Although Toyota has invested in California-based Joby Aviation, it is unclear whether the big T has any involvement in SkyDrive.

SkyDrive says that the SD-03 has been designed to be the world’s smallest eVTOL aircraft. In its first demo flight, the single-seater took off in the early evening and circled the field for about 4 minutes. A pilot was at the controls but a computer-assisted control system ensured the flight stability and safety, while technical staff at the field monitored the aircraft performance as a backup, the company said.

Although it doesn’t look anything like a car in the traditional sense, it has fairly compact dimensions. It measures 2 meters high, 4 meters wide and 4 meters long. Apparently, the SD-03 requires only as much space on the ground as two parked cars. Its technical details aren’t yet available, but we can see that it has four arms with two counter rotating propellers on each arm. Yes, there are a total of 8 motors.

SkyDrive also has a two-seater concept called SD-XX, which I think closely matches the term “flying car”. It has got that modern hypercar-like silhouette and it can also fly. This one too has 8 electric motors that can lift the aircraft up to an altitude of ~500 m. It has a top speed of ~60 km/h (37 mph) and a range of up to 30 km (18 mi).

As for SD-03, SkyDrive aims to obtain approval for flights outside the Toyota Test Field by the end of 2020.

We are extremely excited to have achieved Japan’s first-ever manned flight of a flying car in the two years since we founded SkyDrive in 2018 with the goal of commercializing such aircraft. We aim to take our social experiment to the next level in 2023. We also aspire to develop markets around the world, in collaboration with our partner companies, so that an urban air mobility society with aircraft supplied by SkyDrive becomes a reality not only in Japan but also across the globe. – Tomohiro Fukuzawa, CEO

We will continue to develop technologies and acquire type certification so that safe and secure flying car operation services can be launched in 2023. – Nobuo Kishi, CTO

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