Aug 29, 2020 - Technology

Japanese company completes manned “flying car" test flight

Photo of SkyDrive's SD-03 model, an electrical vertical takeoff and landing vehicle.

SkyDrive's SD-03 model electrical vertical takeoff and landing vehicle. Photo: SkyDrive/CARTIVATOR via Reuters 

SkyDrive has successfully tested its flying car with a passenger on board, the Japanese company announced in a news release.

Why it matters: The modest test — four minutes in the air — brings humanity one step closer to one day combining the automobile and airplane, potentially doing away with the hassle of airports, commercial pilots and traffic jams, according to AP.

How it works: SkyDrive's SD-03 model vehicle, operating with eight motors and two propellers on each corner, lifted a single pilot about 10 feet into the air, according to the New York Times.

  • Because the vehicle takes off vertically, it does not require long runways like current commercial and private airplanes.

What they're saying: SkyDrive’s chief executive Tomohiro Fukuzawa told AP that “Of the world’s more than 100 flying car projects, only a handful have succeeded with a person on board."

  • Fukuzawa added that he hopes flying cars can be sold as a product by 2023, but it currently can only fly for around five to 10 minutes.
  • Fukuzawa said the machine will have more commercial potential if the company can increase flight time to 30 minutes.

The big picture: Several companies, including Boeing, Airbus, Toyota, Porsche and numerous small startups in Silicon Valley, are developing similar technology.

  • Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg told Axios in 2019 that he envisions the skies in U.S. cities filled with electric, autonomous flying vehicles in just a decade, ferrying people to their destination and averting congested roads.

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