SkyDrive conducts first public manned flight test of its SD-03 flying car

In addition to electric and hybrid-powered cars, four-wheeled automotive technology is also enlivened by the concept of flying cars to meet future mobility. For some journeys flying cars could eventually be greener than even electric road cars, cutting emissions while also reducing traffic on increasingly busy roads. Many companies have long been involved in the development of this revolutionary mode of transportation.

One of them is the Japanese startup SkyDrive Inc., which has successfully conducted the first public demonstration flight of its new SD-03 flying car model in Japan earlier this week. The test flight took place at the 10,000-square-meter (approximately 2.5-acre) Toyota Test Field, carrying one passenger, and the car managed to fly around the arena for four minutes.

The SkyDrive SD-03 flying car was driven by a pilot, but a computer-assisted control system helped ensure flight stability and safety of the car while in the air. There was technical staff on the ground that monitors the condition and performance of the aircraft during the flight.

The SD-03 flying car is about four meters long, four meters wide and two meters high and occupies the space of two medium-size vehicles in a parking lot. With these dimensions, it can only transport one person. The powertrain consists of electric motors that drive rotors deployed in four locations, with each location housing two rotors that individually rotate in opposite directions, each driven by its own motor. The single-seat eVTOL has two pairs of propellers that move upward when the car takes off, similar to the small vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft.

The size of the batteries, air traffic control, and other infrastructure problems are still being worked on for commercialization. The company didn’t announce the distance the SkyDrive SD-03 can cover in one flight. But they confirmed that the model is still undergoing some further testing to comply with the safety requirements of the Civil Aeronautics Act.

SkyDrive seeks to consolidate its development to be available as a service that the Japanese authorities want to implement in the next three years. It is expected that from 2023, the flying car can become a real product, although it will require critical safety, said Tomohiro Fukuzawa, who heads the SkyDrive project.

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