Japan recently conducted the country’s first manned public demonstration of a flying car. The vehicle, developed by Japan’s SkyDrive Inc., looks like a slick motorcycle with propellors, can fly for just five to 10 minutes so far.
In a video shown to reporters on Friday, a contraption lifted 1-2 meters off the ground and hovered in a netted area for four minutes.
SkyDrive’s chief, Tomohiro Fukuzawa, said he hopes “the flying car” can be made into a real-life product by 2023, but he recognized that making it safe was critical.
“Of the world’s more than 100 flying car projects, only a handful have succeeded with a person on board,” he told The Associated Press. “I hope many people will want to ride it and feel safe.” He added that even though it can only fly for just five to 10 minutes, if that can become 30 minutes, it will have more potential, including exports to places like China.
Unlike airplanes and helicopters, eVTOL, or “electric vertical takeoff and landing,” vehicles offer quick point-to-point personal travel, at least in principle. They could also do away with the hassle of airports and traffic jams and the cost of hiring pilots, as they could fly automatically.
“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, CGTN reported.
“If they cost US$10 million, 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,” Singh said.
The company will continue to develop technologies to safely and securely launch the flying car in 2023, the news release said. No price has been announced yet. However, experts added that if the project is successful, the US and China could be big markets for the Japanese car.