“Flying Cars” have always been a dream of many people and companies. If this dream comes true, then it would take Technology and the Global World in a new direction. One would not have to wait for local transport, traffic, or even go to the airport. Various companies around the world are working on eVTOL or “Electric Vertical Takeoff and Landing” projects, which include the famous ones like Lilium of Germany, Joby Aviation in California, and Wisk.
On August 28 a video shown to reporters showed a Japanese Flying Car that looked like a slick motorcycle with propellers lifted several feet (1-2 meters) off the ground and flew in a netted area of Toyota Test Field in Toyota, Central Japan for four minutes. The ‘flying car’ was made by Japan’s SkyDrive Inc. After years of trying to make flying cars, Japan at last succeeded in making a flying car with a man on board.
SkyDrive Inc. began manufacturing the Japanese Flying Cars as a volunteer project called Cartivator in 2012. The project was funded by top companies like automaker Toyota Motor Corp, electronics company Panasonic Corp and video-game developer Bandai Namco. That flight demonstration was not so good. But because of recent successful demonstration, the corporation recently received another funding from the Development Bank of Japan that is ¥3.9billion.
The head of SkyDrive effort, Tomohiro Fukuzawa, said to The Associated Press that he hopes that “the flying car” would become a reality by 2023. He further continued that “Of the world’s more than 100 flying car projects, only a handful has succeeded with a person on board.” The machine so far can fly for just 5 to 10 minutes, but if that becomes 30 minutes then its export potential would increase to places like China and others. He described the advantages of Japan’s flying car that this would offer quick point-to-point personal travel, people won’t have to bother about going to airports or be in traffic jams, there would be no need to hire pilots because they can fly these vehicles automatically.
However, he admitted that they still have to work a lot for making it safe, so that “many people will want to ride it and feel safe.” They also have to go through commercializing challenges like Air traffic control, battery sizes, and infrastructure.
Sanjiv Singh, professor at the Robotics Institute at Carnegie Mellon University, who is also working on an eVTOL aircraft described his further concerns about the price and flying time of Japanese flying cars that if the car cost US$10million, or fly for five minutes, or if they fall out of sky often then “no one is going to buy them”.
Apart from other challenges, a major one that these ‘Flying Cars’ have to go through is social acceptance and adoption. Still in this era of technology and fastness, it would take people some time to accept these devices just like the social acceptance of the airplanes, etc. took time. That is why many experts are comparing the buzz over Flying Cars with that of the aviation industry when it got started with the Wright Brothers and the auto industry with the Ford Model T. The chief executive of Kitty Hawk, Sebastian Thrun, also showed his concern about it that like every new technology for instance airplanes, cell phones; self-driving cars would also take some time to win acceptance.
Chisato Tanaka, from The Associated Press, contributed to this report.