Japanese start-up SkyDrive is gearing up for the first public demonstration of its “flying car” – an electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft prototyped for urban air mobility. Just seven months after achieving the first unmanned outdoor sortie in December 2019, the company has announced a plan to demonstrate a manned flight to the public.
SkyDrive said that the event will take place in August, though it has yet to provide further detail on where or when.
Chief technical officer Kishi Nobuo said that the SD03 concept model, which gained flight certification in March, will be built to house just one pilot initially.
“We have built and flown many scaled models of this flying car, but will publicly demonstrate a one-seat piloted version, known as SD03, in August,” he said.
“It will be built to carry a pilot and one passenger initially, but a later, autonomous version will seat two passengers.”
Launched in 2018, SkyDrive is backed by roughly 100 corporate sponsors, including major Japanese tech firms like Panasonic, Sony, Fujitsu and NEC.
The group of engineers behind SkyDrive were also responsible for NEC Corp’s drone-like flying car concept, which was successfully tested in August 2019.
The company hopes to produce a commercial eVTOL by 2023, and Kishi added that there is a sizeable initial market for aerial tourism and island hopping.
However, he said that the end goal is for the vehicle “to be used for taxi services in urban areas”, as well as “a means of emergency transportation in the event of a disaster”.
“As flying cars are inexpensive, quieter, and require compact space for take-off and landing compared to conventional aircraft, they are expected to make flying a routine form of mobility,” he said.