Tuesday, May 24, 2022

Flying Cars In 3 Years? Japan Sets 2025 Target For ‘Innovation Of The Century’, To Run eVTOL Services During Osaka World Expo

Come 2025, visitors to the Osaka World Expo may be able to take a ride on flying cars/taxis, which would connect eight potential destinations at a rate of about 20 flights per hour.

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The Japanese government has set a target of accomplishing the commercial flights of flying cars by 2025. The Osaka expo, which is estimated to attract 28 million people, is seen as a perfect launchpad for electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) vehicles.

It was previously reported that Tokyo has formulated a plan to carry passengers between Kansai International Airport and the Expo site using flying cars. The distance is over 30 kilometers, and domestic and international firms are developing similar vehicles. 

According to the latest report, Yumeshima, Osaka’s artificial island and the site of the World Expo, would be connected to airports and other areas in and around Osaka, Kobe, and Kyoto by flying cars. Officials describe the project as Japan’s first passenger-transporting flying-taxi network. 

The city of Osaka, the Osaka Bay area, Osaka International Airport, or Itami Airport, and Kansai International Airport are all possible destinations for eVTOLs. The city of Kobe, as well as Kobe Airport, are popular tourist destinations, the report claimed. 

Awaji Island near Kobe, as well as the region surrounding Kyoto and Ise-Shima, are apparently other possible places that may see direct eVTOL flights.

The government is pitching the new proposal to the corporate sector. Since the beginning of this fiscal year, a working committee led by the Japan Association for the 2025 World Exposition and the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry has been studying the proposal, the report said. 

flying-cars
Joby’s all-electric aircraft on the tarmac at the company’s facility in Marina, California. (Joby photo)

Manufacturers and potential operators will be chosen in the fiscal year 2022. Contracts for vehicle development and operation will be granted to a number of competitors. Candidates for takeoff and landing grounds management will also be selected as part of the project. Following discussions between operators and the association, routes and fares will be determined.

The commercialization of flying cars will necessitate regulation. Planes, helicopters, and drones will all be flying in the same region, thus air traffic will have to be regulated. In view of this, new construction standards for airfields will be formulated.

The regulatory framework will be developed by the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport, and Tourism by fiscal 2023 or fiscal 2024. The plan is to demonstrate the viability of flying automobiles during the World Expo.

EVTOL-flying taxi
EVTOL-flying taxi (Joby Aviation)

Vision For 2025

The Japanese government, in cooperation with private enterprises in the logistics and automobile industries, is striving for the development of flying automobiles for rural transportation and disaster assistance.

In 2018, the government created a public-private group to develop a detailed plan that stated that commercial flying vehicle services will begin in the mid-2020s, with increased safety and reliability among the difficulties to be overcome.

A number of companies have already started to work on this vision. Last Month, All Nippon Airways ANA, Japan’s largest airline, and Joby Aviation, a flying taxi startup, launched plans to introduce aerial ridesharing to Osaka, the country’s third-largest city.

ANA and the California-based company stated in a joint statement that traveling by flying taxi from central Osaka to Kansai Airport would take only 15 minutes, compared to an hour by other modes of transport. 

Japan Airlines (JAL) has a partnership agreement with Avolon to purchase up to 50 VA-X4 eVTOLs in the future. (Avolon)

Even though some operators have previously mentioned the 2025 Osaka World Expo as a possible starting point, ANA and Joby’s statement did not commit to any timeframe for delivering the company’s five-seater aircraft.

Avolon, a Dublin-based aircraft leasing company, signed an arrangement with Japan Airlines. The Japanese Airlines (JAL) will be able to buy or lease up to 50 Vertical VA-X4 eVTOL aircraft through Avolon under the terms of the agreement. A further 50 units will be available for purchase or lease. JAL is planning to begin operations in April 2025, to cater to the Osaka Kansai Expo.

In 2020, SkyDrive Inc., a Japanese startup, conducted the country’s first public test flight of a manned vehicle, with the goal of introducing such mobility as an alternative to existing means of transportation.

Last year, the company inked a deal with Osaka Prefecture and the city of Osaka to collaborate toward the pragmatic use of its flying cars in the western Japan metropolis ahead of the World Expo. 

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