Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Japanese drone-like Flying Car prototype takes a test flight for a minute

Japanese electronics maker NEC Corp has demonstrated a “flying car,” a large drone-like machine with four propellers that hovered steadily for about a minute. It is a step toward a flying car future Japan believes will arrive around 2030. The company operated the test flight inside a gigantic cage, as a safety precaution, at an NEC facility in Abiko, Chiba Prefecture.

The battery-powered drone, which had no passengers inside was flown to a height of around 10 ft (3 m) for a few moments before returning to the ground. The Japanese government wants the country to become a leader in flying cars after missing out on advancements in technology such as electric cars and ride-hailing services.

The flying car uses four props, each around 4 to 5 ft (1.2 to 1.5 m), and has three wheels and a compact cabin that’s designed to eventually carry people. The model is about 3.9 meters long, 3.7 meters wide and 1.3 meters tall, and weighs about 150 kilograms.

NEC officials said their flying car was designed for unmanned flights for deliveries but utilized the company’s technology in its other operations such as space travel and cybersecurity.

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The project has got the backing of the Japanese government, according to Bloomberg. It was the first demo of such a vehicle by a major Japanese corporation and its partner Cartivator aims to start mass production in 2026.

Japan isn’t the only country putting efforts to develop such a technology. Many other similar VTOL multi-copter projects are popping up around the world, such as Uber Air of the U.S. There is a long way to go to reach the goal to deliver a seamless transition from driving to flight, although huge hurdles remain such as battery life, the need for regulations and safety concerns.