Mobility has expanded people’s ability to move and enriched their lives by providing them with the joy of going farther and manipulating their own way. However, roads are necessary for cars, buses and trains, and airports and runways are required for aeroplanes. But infrastructure maintenance requires a large investment. In emerging countries where population explosion is expected in the future, a lack of transportation infrastructure may hinder growth.
Hence, to realise the true freedom of movement, compact flying cars with vertical takeoff and landing technology can be a boon, as these will not need roads and/or runways to lift off. In addition, it is necessary to ensure their noise-free control in all weather conditions, along with absolute safety and reliability. With flying cars, passengers can freely enjoy the scenery from the sky, and go to places and avoid traffic jams.
A flying car is a general term for mobility with electric, autopilot, and vertical take-off and landing functions. Electrical vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) is another term used to describe this technology in the urban air mobility sector. Uber has announced that it will start a business as a service (BaaS) platform in 2023. This gives eVTOL high hopes to become a key part of mobility as a service (MaaS).
Governments from different countries are working on public-private ventures for future air mobility, and a roadmap for land, infrastructure, transport and tourism is on its way for establishing the same. Air mobility has been proposed to be used as a means of alleviation of congestion in developed countries, emergency use and transportation, which does not require infrastructure in developing countries.
SkyDrive Inc. has been established by members of Cartivator, which is a group of aircraft, drones and automotive engineers for the development, manufacture and sales of flying cars. It successfully completed flight testing in 2019 in a joint effort with Toyota. They are planning to start manufacturing in 2020, and will be ready for public sales in 2023.
The first Japanese outdoor flight testing of a flying car (unmanned) was conducted with regular testing throughout 2019. Tomohiro Fukuzawa, chief executive, SkyDrive, says, “Flying cars will improve the lives of consumers across the world by providing efficiency of movement and creating happiness in flying—be it linking people to jobs, their family or a dream holiday. SkyDrive will be the travel mode of the future. The company is now working on product development and certification.”
SkyDrive has a length of 3600mm, width of 1700mm during travel and 3100mm during flight, and height of 1100mm. It can achieve maximum flight speed up to 100kmph and maximum driving speed up to 60kmph. It can drive up to flight altitude of 50m with a battery-operated engine. Its maximum take-off weight is 400kg.
Toyota City provides places for development and verification testing, discussions with country and prefecture about legislation, sorting issues for regional industrialisation, provision of opportunity for matching and so on. Cartivator and SkyDrive Inc. have taken charge of vehicle development, performance of flight and verification testing, provision of examination data, creation and improvement of the business model for industrialisation and so on.