Flying Car Trials First Manned Flight

Sun 30th Aug 2020

The future of cars taking to the skies took a giant leap forward this month with the news that a flying car has managed to take off with a human behind the wheel.

Japan’s SkyDrive project showcased a video of a test flight this week, with bold promises that the vehicle will be ready to taxi passengers by 2023.

The Tokyo-based start-up demonstrated their SD-03 vehicle, in the aptly named city of Toyota, the single-seat car featuring four-propellers and power by a battery powertrain, flew six feet off the ground and hovered for a period of about five minutes.

The SD-03 is limited to shorts runs of five to ten minutes currently, at low speeds, but the ambition is to ramp up speeds to 40 miles per hour and extend flight times to 30 minutes, which will be perfect for commuting around large congested cities, such as the kind you find in Japan.

“Of the world’s more than 100 flying car projects, only a handful has succeeded with a person on board,” Fukuzawa told The Associated Press on Friday. “I hope many people will want to ride it and feel safe.”

The new generation of flying cars are all aiming for the same goal of being small enough to fit in two parking spaces and being able to take off without a runway or landing pad.

The prospect of flying cars in the UK appear quite remote. Regulators have paused development of many schemes in the US and Western Europe, while some expects are suggesting the cost of building the vehicles will be prohibitive. 

“Many things have to happen,” said Sanjiv Singh, professor at the Robotics Institute at Carnegie Mellon University, who co-founded Near Earth Autonomy, near Pittsburgh, which is also working on an evtol aircraft.

“If they cost 10 million dollars, no-one is going to buy them. If they fly for five 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,” Mr Singh said.