When cars fly: Japan firm says day is nearing

Agence France-Presse

Posted at Sep 02 2020 05:47 PM

This handout picture taken in August 2020 obtained on September 2, 2020 from SkyDrive/CARTIVATOR shows shows the SD-03 manned flying car during a test flight at Toyota test field in Toyota city, Aichi prefecture. It might seem like the stuff of science fiction, but a Japan firm says it is one step closer to making flying cars a reality after testing a drone-like prototype. SkyDrive/CARTIVATOR via AFP

TOKYO - It might seem like a flight of fancy, but a Japanese firm says it is one step closer to making flying cars a reality after testing a drone-like prototype.

Video from engineering company SkyDrive shows its manned compact vehicle using eight propellers to hover into the air and make its way -- with a few wobbles -- around a test field.

But while the clip may excite fans of "Blade Runner" and "Back to the Future", the test run leaves mankind far from a future of airborne vehicles whizzing into the sky to avoid traffic.

The company hailed "the first public demonstration of a flying car in Japan" and said the aircraft, around the size of two parked cars, had circled the testing field for four minutes.

"We want to realize a society where flying cars are an accessible and convenient means of transportation in the skies," SkyDrive CEO Tomohiro Fukuzawa said in a statement Friday.

The firm said it wanted the vehicle to be available to buy in Japan by 2023, with reports suggesting it could cost upwards of $300,000.

The car is not the first step humans have taken towards a brave new world of airborne vehicles.

A German company tested a flying taxi in Singapore in October, saying it hoped its invention -- also shaped like a big drone -- would revolutionise travel in traffic-choked cities.

Volocopter had already tested its battery-operated, two-seater taxi elsewhere around the globe but the Singapore trial was the first in the heart of a city.

Several other companies are working on similar projects, including Boeing, Airbus, Toyota and Hyundai.