Hailing a flying taxi will no longer be just a concept found in science fiction movies. A Japanese company called SkyDrive recently tested a single-seat prototype straight out of Back to the Future. The company has unveiled its electrical vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) vehicle, also known as a flying car. The vehicle looks to be a significant step forward toward the future of air mobility.

On the 25th of August 2020, SkyDrive successfully tested prototype SD-03 at the Toyota Test Field in Japan. The flight saw the vehicle hover a few feet off the ground for around 4 minutes within a protective cage. However, the test’s success has now given SkyDrive enough impetus to broaden the testing environment and generate safety data in a larger area. Ultimately, this data will be used to make a case for the flying vehicles in transportation.

Source: SkyDrive

SkyDrive says it has long been their goal to develop the world’s smallest flying car model. The SD-03 measures in at just 2 meters high, 4 meters wide, and 4 meters long, making it the smallest eVTOL in the world right now. The one-seater craft takes flight thanks to eight electric motors that power several rotors positioned in four locations around the vehicle’s body.

SkyDrive says that if one of the eight motors fail on the SD-03 prototype, the other motors will play a backup role and keep the vehicle flying. The ‘car’ also has two front lamps and one red tail lamp — the first signs that it might conform to some form of aerial traffic system in the future.

Chief Technology Officer at SkyDrive, Nobou Kishi, has also predicted when he thinks a flying taxi service may come about utilizing their technology.

“The crewed flight that we achieved this time is the culmination of the results that SkyDrive has accumulated so far for technical verification. We have been working step by step, such as designing and testing electric propulsion systems, flight control systems, airframe structures, and introducing equipment for airframe conditions during flight tests. We will continue to work on technological development and type certification so that we can start a safe and reliable flight car navigation service in 2023,” Kishi said.

Sky race

Another technology company keenly interested in air mobility is Uber, who just recently launched Uber Air. They have vehicle partners who include Aurora Flight Sciences, Bell, Embraer, Hyundai, Jaunt Air Mobility, JOBY Aviation, Overair, and Pipistrel Vertical Solutions.

Aerospace company Boeing and automobile manufacturer Porsche had also conducted autonomous tests on prototypes of their flying cars back in 2019. They say their vehicle has space for two to four people and a range of 50 miles.

Naturally, due to Boeing’s foray into flying car manufacturing, rival Airbus has been tasking their engineers to develop a prototype of their own. There is, therefore, no lack of competition in the air mobility industry. Nonetheless, it is impossible to say which company may go public with a certified consumer experience first.

SkyDrive’s two-seater concept vehicle is the company’s next focus. The SD-XX is a customer-focused eVTOL that can fly up to altitudes of up to 1,640 feet.

“We are extremely excited to have achieved Japan’s first-ever manned flight of a flying car in the two years since we founded SkyDrive in 2018 with the goal of commercializing such aircraft,” SkyDrive CEO Tomohiro Fukuzawa said.

“We aim to take our social experiment to the next level in 2023, and to that end, we will be accelerating our technological development and our business development.”
 

Works Cited

sd2020 投稿者: “HOME.” 株式会社SkyDrive, skydrive2020.com/archives/3506.

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