Skydrive’s flying car has a successful test flight with a passenger

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SD-03 eVTOL (electric vertical takeoff and landing)

Japan’s SkyDrive Inc., completed a successful test flight of it’s “flying car.” This was only one of a handful of test flights that had a passenger on board.

In a video shown to reporters on Friday, a small single-seat craft with four bilateral propellers lifted off the ground. It flew for around for 4 minutes.

The prototype car, SD-03 eVTOL (electric vertical takeoff and landing), flew around at the Toyota Test Field, which is 10,000 square meters (approximately 2.5 acres). The field is Japan’s largest test field and home to the Skydrive company’s development base.

With a pilot at the controls, the flying car flew around the field. The craft was equipped with a computer-assisted control system to stabilize and monitor performance.

Tomohiro Fukuzawa, who heads up the Skydrive project, explains that the machine can only fly for five to 10 minutes but they are working to boost the capability to 30 minutes.

A representative from Tokyo-based Skydrive said the “Jetsons” like cars they are creating may soon change transportation.

“Of the world’s more than 100 flying car projects, only a handful has succeeded with a person on board,” said Fukuzawa. “I hope many people will want to ride it and feel safe.”

Roadblocks to flying cars

Assuming all safety improvements are completed, Fukuzawa is anticipating that the high-flying auto will hit the market by 2023.

Skydrive is still working on the obstacles of its flying car. Battery size, safety issues, and air traffic control all pose challenges. And these are the things that affect the cost-to-scale and the price-to-market.

“Many things have to happen,” said Sanjiv Singh, professor at the Robotics Institute at Carnegie Mellon University. “If they cost $10 million, no one is going to buy them. If they fly for 5 minutes, no one is going to buy them.”

Skydrive is one of about 100 companies that are developing flying cars internationally. And there are definitely some obstacles to overcome. But if time and technology are any indications, we may all be flying around in these soon.

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