Skip to main content

This drone-like ‘flying car’ has just taken a step toward commercialization

A drone-like electric aircraft developed by a startup in Japan has taken an important step toward commercialization after receiving a safety certificate from the government.

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

The current design of SkyDrive’s SD-03 “flying car” has a single seat with a body about 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 kph) during trips lasting up to 10 minutes.

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

Talk SkyDrive SD 03, Japan first manned flight

In the last few days, Japan’s Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport, and Tourism (MLIT) issued a certificate confirming that the design, structure, strength, and performance of the SD-03 meets the necessary safety and environmental requirements for such an aircraft. SkyDrive says it’s the first time that MLIT has accepted an application for a flying car.

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

That suggests SkyDrive will have to create a fully autonomous SD-03, or if a pilot is required, build a larger version of the aircraft with additional seats for passengers.

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

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

Another Japanese company just a few days ago showed off a remarkable hoverbike taking a successful test flight. Its maker is hoping to start selling the machine next year for around $680,000, though like SkyDrive’s aircraft, regulators will have the final say over whether it can take to the skies and what kind of flights it can make.

Editors' Recommendations

Trevor Mogg
Contributing Editor
Not so many moons ago, Trevor moved from one tea-loving island nation that drives on the left (Britain) to another (Japan)…
This 32-rotor eVTOL aircraft is a one-seater that you build yourself
TeTra's fully electric Mk-5 aircraft.

While plenty of money is being pumped into efforts to create a so-called “flying taxi” for viable urban mobility services, a startup founded in Japan three years ago is intent on creating a personal electric vertical-takeoff-and-landing (eVTOL) machine for solo flights.

The latest version of TeTra Aviation’s single-seater recently took to the skies in a test flight at Byron Airport about 50 miles east of San Francisco, with the 32-rotor Mk-5 aircraft captured soaring through the air in a video (below) posted on YouTube.

Read more
Watch the unique Volocopter take first public flight in the U.S.
this 18 rotor passenger drone may fly at the paris olympics volocopter volocity test flight

Urban mobility company Volocopter recently sent its extraordinary 18-rotor electric aircraft skyward in what it claimed to be the first-ever public-crewed test flight of a fully electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) air taxi in the U.S. You can watch it take to the air in the video below.

The Volocopter 2X entertained crowds at the Experimental Aircraft Association’s AirVenture 2021 event in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, earlier this week.

Read more
Watch this flying car make history with first intercity flight
flying car makes history with first intercity flight aircar

A vehicle capable of flying in the sky and driving on the road completed a momentous  journey this week.

Stefan Klein, founder and CEO of research and development company Klein Vision, drove his prototype AirCar to Nitra international airport in Slovakia before motoring down the runway and taking off. He then flew the 35-minute route to Bratislava and, after landing at the city's airport, drove the two-passenger vehicle to the downtown area three minutes away. A video (above) shows key moments from the incredible ride.

Read more