The SD-05 electric vertical take-off and landing vehicle, known as SkyDrive, is a great option for quickly traveling between airports and downtown areas instead of using taxis. In the near future, it is unlikely that many people will have one of these vehicles in their personal garage. It’s hard to say how the market will respond as it depends on government regulations and the cost of owning and operating one’s own drone.
SkyDrive, a Japanese flying car startup, plans to launch commercial services in 2026. The first ground-to-air amphibious vehicle will take off in South Carolina, USA. Older people may remember that the super-genius Fantomas, wearing a fearsome green rubber mask, used high-tech solutions to achieve his goals. For example, he used flying cars to escape from the police when he had to. A Citroën DS grew wings underneath him and took off with a jet engine.
Since then, no vehicle in this category has ever been so cool in reality, although there have been some really promising attempts. The latest is SkyDrive, which aims to operate flights between airports and city centres. The company, based in central Japan’s Aichi prefecture, has begun negotiations with government authorities and two airports through its South Carolina office to commercialise the project, the Nikkei news agency reported.
The start-up will begin with the SD-05 electric vertical take-off and landing vehicle, which is expected to be in operation at the 2025 World Expo in Osaka. The multi-propeller vehicle can seat two people including the pilot. But for now, it’s just a passenger drone without wheels.
The company probably uses the flying car designation only because the vehicle is the size of a small car. It is true that they have a project codenamed SD-XX, which is a real amphibian with wheels, but it is not planned to be launched until the rather distant future, around 2050.
The appeal of the US market
South Carolina, where Boeing has an aircraft assembly plant, is one of the centres of the US aviation industry. SkyDrive’s decision to debut there is also due to the presence of one of SkyDrive’s main suppliers, Toray Carbon Magic, a subsidiary of the Japanese chemical group Toray Industries.
Several countries are aiming to commercialise flying cars and set up businesses in the United States, which could become a major market for this type of vehicle. SkyDrive is also expanding its activities elsewhere. Last year, it signed an agreement with a Vietnamese infrastructure development company for an order of up to 100 aircraft.
There are also trials in Europe for short-haul flights to city centres. For example, Volocopter, which is set to dazzle the world with its electric-powered vehicle during the Paris Olympics, or Slovakia’s Aircar, which already has an official licence to fly.