Japan’s first air taxi

For the first time in the world, the Japanese Cartivator can carry a passenger with an electric powered vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) vehicle, the Sky Drive. It is planned that the plane can first fly with a pilot and one passenger, but later can carry up to two passengers autonomously.

The company’s long-term goal is to cover Japan’s entire urban air mobility (UAM) market with its battery-powered aircraft. Like several other, mostly American developers, this is first envisioned by crew and only later planned to switch to autonomous flight when the aircraft is already carrying two passengers. Initially, pilot supervision is necessary because the technology and regulatory environment for automatic flight are not yet mature enough. Testing of the first prototype by a manufacturer working under the Cartivator umbrella began in December 2019 at Toyota headquarters, and several smaller models were tested before that. In recent months, all equipment has been finally tested, there are no longer any technical barriers to public demonstration tests, and passengers can sit in with complete safety. The capabilities and specifications of the Sky Drive SD03 model are very similar to those of other electric aircraft, the amount of batteries required is a limiting factor at several points. It will thus have a maximum take-off mass of 500 kilograms, a cruising speed expected to be 60 km / h and a range of around 30 kilometers.

It is planned to launch the “air taxi”, a brain-flying car (which term is more appropriate) in 2023, which will be suitable for tourist purposes and commuting between small islands for the first time, but the goal is to become an integral part of urban transport. This can partially relieve ground traffic, although in addition to creating the technical conditions, even society in Japan needs to be convinced of the viability of air mobility. At the same time, more people are likely to bet on success than failure, as there are already hundreds of commercial sponsors behind Sky Drive, including large companies such as Fujitsu, NEC, Panasonic or Sony, which provide professional support with a significant portion of the development money. also help.

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