Drone-like ‘flying car’ takes a step towards commercialization

A drone-type electric plane developed by a startup in Japan has taken a major step towards commercialization after receiving a safety certificate from the government.

Tokyo-based SkyDrive unveiled an early version of its electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) vehicle in 2018, before making its first piloted test flight last year.

SkyDrive’s current SD-03 “flying car” design features a single seat with a body the size of a small car. Resembling a large drone, it flies using eight propellers (two sets at the end of four arms) and can reach speeds of 30 mph (around 50 km / h) on trips of up to 10 minutes.

The video below, shared by the company earlier this year, shows the flying machine in action.

Over the past few days, the Japanese Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism (MLIT) issued a certificate confirming that the design, structure, strength and performance of the SD-03 meet the safety and environmental requirements necessary for such an aircraft. SkyDrive says this is the first time MLIT has accepted a flying car application.

The certification puts SkyDrive on the path to commercializing the aircraft in 2025. If it can clear the remaining regulatory hurdles, it wants to use the SD-03 for an air taxi service at the Osaka Kansai Expo event the same. year.

This suggests that SkyDrive will need to create a fully self-contained SD-03, or if a pilot is required, build a larger version of the plane with additional seats for passengers.

The Tokyo-based company said it was “very happy” to receive the certification, adding that it “will continue to work closely with the government and MLIT to complete our development of a completely safe and reliable flying car.”

SkyDrive is one of a growing number of companies around the world hoping to succeed in the flying taxi market.

Just a few days ago, another Japanese company presented a remarkable hovercraft in a successful test flight. Its builder hopes to start selling the machine next year for around $ 680,000, although, like SkyDrive’s plane, regulators will have the final say on its ability to fly and what type of flights it will fly. can perform.

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