A fantastic future with flying cabs is now one step closer to becoming a reality.
A Japanese company called SkyDrive is behind the potential revolution. They are testing a single-seat prototype for an electric flying vehicle, with vertical takeoff and landing, at a Toyota test field.
The flying car, called the SD-03, can land in a spot the size of two parking spaces. The company claims it will actually seat two people (one pilot and one passenger) when it goes into full production. The project is backed by Toyota and aims to have flying taxis in the air by 2023.
Electric vertical takeoff and landing vehicles, dubbed “eVTOLs,” look like the odds-on favorites to deliver on the promise of flying cars. SkyDrive’s SD-03 achieves lift from four sets of counter-rotating rotors, each powered by its own motor. The company says the eight-rotor, four-motor setup provides redundancy in case of a failure of one or more motors.
The single-seat prototype navigated Toyota’s 2.5-acre field (enclosed with netting) for about four minutes at an altitude of six feet. The design incorporates headlights and taillights so that observers on the ground can easily decipher the SD-03’s direction of travel. Toyota is planning more expansive test flights of the flying taxi later this year.
SkyDrive is based at Toyota’s Aichi research and development center. Earlier this year, Toyota invested $394 million in Joby Aviation, another eVTOL company. Toyota seems determined to add a “Sky Cruiser” to its line-up in the not too distant future. In the near future, you may be able to order a flying Uber to take you home after a night out on the town.
Here are some shots from the SkyDrive website of the SD-03.