SkyDrive demonstrates Japan's first flying car – SD-03
04 September 2020
SkyDrive Inc, a Japanese company specialising in urban air mobility solutions, successfully conducted a public demonstration flight of its new SD-03 flying car model last week – making the first public demonstration of a flying car in Japan.
The flight took place at the 10,000-square-meter (approximately 2.5-acre) Toyota Test Field, which is one of the largest test fields in Japan and home to the company’s development base.
The single-seat SD-03 took off in the early evening and circled the field for about four minutes. A pilot was at the controls but a computer-assisted control system helped ensure flight stability and safety while technical staff at the field monitored flight conditions and aircraft performance at all times as backup.
The aircraft has been designed to be the world’s smallest electric Vertical Take-Off and Landing (eVTOL) model as a new means of transportation for the near future. It is two meters high by four meters wide and four meters long and requires only as much space on the ground as two parked cars.
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 company says the use of eight motors will ensure safety in emergency situations during flight and will also address compliance standards and allay potential regulatory concerns.
Viewed from the side, the fuselage has a lean, sleek look with the rotor housings extending out in swooping curves that maintain the visual unity of the aircraft’s design and emphasise its aerodynamic qualities. SkyDrive is fitted with a pair of propellers rising up into the sky and working in tandem in the front. The aircraft has two white lights in front and a red light running around the bottom of the body, to make it easy for observers to tell which way the vehicle is headed when it is floating in the sky.
“We are extremely excited to have achieved Japan’s first-ever manned flight of a flying car in the two years since we founded SkyDrive in 2018 with the goal of commercializing such aircraft. We aim to take our social experiment to the next level in 2023 and to that end we will be accelerating our technological development and our business development,” Tomohiro Fukuzawa, CEO of the company said.
“The manned flight we have achieved this time is the culmination of SkyDrive’s achievements for technical verification. We have been working on the design of electric propulsion systems, flight control systems, aircraft structures, testing, manufacturing, and introducing monitoring equipment for aircraft conditions during flight testing step by step, and with a considerable sense of speed. We will continue to develop technologies and acquire type certification so that safe and secure flying car operation services can be launched in fiscal 2023,” said CTO Nobuo Kishi.
“In designing an unexplored, new genre of transportation known as the flying car, we chose the keyword “progressive” for inspiration. We wanted this vehicle to be futuristic, charismatic and desirable for all future customers, while fully incorporating the high technology of SkyDrive. We believe that this vehicle will play an active role as your travel companion, a compact coupe flying in the sky. As a pioneer of a new genre, we would like to continue designing the vehicles that everyone dreams of,” added design director Takumi Yamamot.
The company hopes that its aircraft will become people’s partner in the sky and is working to design a commercial version of the flying car.
SkyDrive will continue to conduct test flights under an expanding range of conditions in order to improve its technologies further and achieve full compliance with the safety provisions of the Civil Aeronautics Act. It aims to obtain approval for flights outside the limits of the Toyota Test Field before the end of 2020.