Japanese “flying car” completes first test flight
The Japanese electronics group NEC has unveiled a prototype of a "flying car" similar to a flying drone. At the development site in Akibo, Japan, the 150-kilogram vehicle hovered three meters above the ground for about a minute in a controlled cage.
It was in a cage and was fastened to the ground with cables for safety reasons, but it can fly: The Japanese corporation NEC has unveiled the prototype of a flying car.
The vehicle is essentially a large quad copter drone that can transport people. The Japanese electronics manufacturer presented the aircraft during a demo flight in the Tokyo suburb of Akibo - but without a passenger. Powered by a battery, the flying car briefly climbed to about 3 meters above the ground before returning to the landing position.
Japan strives for leadership in the business for flying cars
The undramatic demonstration belies a greater ambition: The Japanese government wants the country to take the lead in flying cars after missing out on advances in technology such as electric cars and Ride Hailing Services. The country's technological roadmap envisages transporting goods by flying cars until about 2023, and letting people drive in cities with flying cars until 2030, reports the news service Bloomberg.
“Japan is a densely populated country. That means that flying cars could significantly reduce the burden on road traffic,” the news media quotes Kouji Okada, the head of the project at NEC. “We position ourselves as an enabler for air mobility, providing location data and building communications infrastructure for flying cars. ”
In recent years, Japan has developed a small, passionate aircraft community that believes Japan has the technical expertise and the right environment to promote a global flying car industry. Venture capitalists in the country set up a special fund, the so-called drone fund, to invest in autonomous aircraft in general and aircraft in particular.
Although the recent demo is one of the first of a large Japanese company, NEC does not plan to produce the flying car in series. Instead, the project partner Cartivator will start series production of the vehicle in 2026. Bloomberg received this information from Tomohiro Fukuzawa, the co-founder of the startup.
Several companies outside Japan are already working on flying cars, including Boeing, Airbus and Uber. However, it is not yet quite clear who the target market beyond the super-rich is to include - or whether autonomous “flying ” taxis are economically viable at all.
This article was first published in German by next-mobility.news.