Japan takes flying cars seriously

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It also enjoys the support of startup technology investors called SkyDrive and the Japanese government in developing aircraft that resemble conventional cars, both in price and size.

Recently, electrical structures called vertical takeoff and landing aircrafts (VTOL) have been announced one after another. For the time being, these have “been realized” in the form of prototypes or only vague business plans. Their efficiency and feasibility are therefore difficult to assess, although the most informative analyzes have already shown that we will certainly not drive a car in public, as even petrol cars, not to mention electric cars, perform better for distances within cities.

The special experience and speed are attractive, of course, but for now, it seems likely that such technologies will remain only the toys of the richest for a long time to come. However, it should also be borne in mind that, in certain circumstances, flying cars are considered to be a particularly environmentally friendly solution, and when loaded with passengers, they can be a realistic alternative for the wider community when traveling between cities for a few hundred kilometers.

Last year, Morgan Stanley released predictions, without any stakes, that the production and operation of electric VTOL vehicles could be a $ 1,500 billion market by 2040. Of course, it is difficult to take such estimates seriously, but it is also a fact that there are currently more than 100 projects in this direction worldwide, with the participation of market players such as Boeing, Audi, Airbus, Uber or even NASA, not to mention the myriad about startup business.

We recently reported developments on a German company called Lilium Aviation, for which the company has raised more than $ 376 million in investor funding to date and has had regulatory approvals for testing in the U.S. and Europe since last year. Lilium promises to launch by 2025 a service that would carry passengers between London and Manchester for $ 70 in the company’s five-seater, electric-powered aircraft, also joining the air taxi business as an operator.

The latest news on flying cars is about a Japanese startup, SkyDrive, which is said to list the world’s smallest two-seater flying car to date. The significance of this would be that the vehicle needs only as much space on the ground as two parked cars, and the chances of the project becoming a reality are increased by the fact that the Japanese government has also emerged as a supporter of the new mode of transport.

The government expects the reduction of congestion within cities and the connection of hard-to-reach mountain areas or smaller islands from the introduction of eVTOL vehicles. According to The Japan Times, the concept model of the SkyDrive SD-XX is otherwise 1.5 meters high, 4 meters long and 3.5 meters wide, which means that it is really not much larger than a car and can do speeds of up to 100 km / h at the same time. tens of kilometers in the air.

The first models are scheduled to go into production in 2023 at the earliest, but they promise only vehicles by the end of the decade that will operate fully autonomously and be able to travel on the roads at an acceptable speed of 60 km / h. At the heart of the whole concept would be the practicality that flying cars could land or stop everywhere, from traditional car parks to flat roofs, without the need for special infrastructure in the imagination of others.

The first air taxi service to launch in Osaka or Tokyo is also promised by 2023, after which SkyDrive would appear not only in Japan but also in South Asian markets with its products and services. So far, no attempt has been made to accurately estimate the price of the trips, but they are sure that they will be spectacularly cheaper than renting helicopters. The small and especially safe eVTOL models, in addition to their own services, could be purchased by anyone in 2028 for the price of a more expensive car.

Although SkyDrive would launch the first manned flights this summer, its supporters include more than 100 market companies in addition to the Japanese state, including NEC or Panasonic. According to CrunchBase, the startup that has been researching flying cars since 2014 has so far gained 1.8 billion yen in investor capital, but the companies behind it not only provide financial assistance, but also from recruiting professionals or even parts. they also play their part in providing care.

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