Japan’s SkyDrive announced the first successful test drive of its manned flying car, the SD-03.
The company conducted a public demonstration for the vehicle that can zip through the skies, at Toyota Test Field, on August 25. It lifted several feet (1-2m) and hovered in the field for about four minutes, SkyDrive said in a release.
"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... with the goal of commercializing such aircraft," said Tomohiro Fukuzawa, CEO of the company.
The SD-03 is the world's smallest electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) vehicle and takes up the space of about two parked cars. It has eight motors to ensure "safety in emergency situations."
Presently, the vehicle can fly for just 5-10 minutes. “If it can increase to 30 minutes, it will have more potential, including exports to places like China,” Fukuzawa said.
The eVTOL vehicles could do away with the hassle of airports and traffic jams and the cost of hiring pilots, they could fly automatically. Battery sizes, air traffic control and other infrastructure issues are among the many potential challenges to commercializing them.
“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,” Sanjiv Singh, professor at the Robotics Institute at Carnegie Mellon University, who co-founded Near Earth Autonomy and who’s working on the Flying Car project, told Mainichi.
The project is funded by automaker Toyota Motor Corp., electronics company Panasonic Corp. and video-game developer Bandai Namco.
A year ago, Turkey’s Baykar announced the development of a prototype of the country's first flying car, christened "Cezeri.” Cezeri Flying Car is a single-seat, rotating wing aircraft consisting of 8 Brushless DC motors and propeller pairs.
The 241kg electric vehicle is powered by rechargeable batteries. It will have a maximum cruise speed of 100kmph, altitude of 2000m, range of 70-80km, endurance of 1 hour and payload capability of 80-100kg.