This Japanese Company’s Flying Car Has Successfully Taken Off!
Another day, another piece of flying car news. However, this may not just be hearsay and assumptions about the future of flying cars. No, this is the real thing. A Japanese company has made the first successful test flight of its “flying car”.
Sure, it was in a cage, and it was unmanned but the fact remains that Japan, so often at the forefront of new electronics has come up with a prototype which actually flew. Made by NEC Corp., the vehicle is essentially a large drone with four propellers that’s capable of carrying people. It’s being tested in a large 10-meter-by-20-meter cage that’s 2 meters tall, to make sure it doesn’t fly out of control and injure someone, or cause damage.
The Japanese electronics maker demonstrated the machine, flying without a passenger. Powered by a battery, it rose briefly to about 3 meters above the ground before settling down again. NEC engineers spent about a year developing the model, which weighs about 150 kilograms and is 3.9 meters long.
Japan’s government has a big ambition for these flying cars; it wants the country to become a leader in flying cars after missing out on advancements in technology such as electric cars and ride-hailing services. The country’s technological roadmap calls for shipping goods by flying cars by around 2023 and letting people ride in flying cars in cities by the 2030s.
“Japan is a densely populated country and that means flying cars could greatly alleviate the burden on road traffic,” said Kouji Okada, a leader of the project at NEC. “We are positioning ourselves as an enabler for air mobility, providing location data and building communications infrastructure for flying cars.”
Although NEC’s demo is among the first by a major Japanese corporation, the electronics giant isn’t planning to mass-produce the flying car, according to Okada. Instead project partner Cartivator will start mass producing the transportation machine in 2026, according to the startup’s co-founder, Tomohiro Fukuzawa.
NEC engineers and Cartivator, which it sponsors, spent about a year developing the model, and the Japanese government is fully supporting their push for the flying car, as the company has been granted a permit for outdoor flights.
However, the company faces huge competition as number of companies, including Boeing, Airbus, and Uber, are working on autonomous flying. Google co-founder Larry Page’s Kitty Hawk Corp. is also working on a flying car. Further, Japan isn’t the only country seeking to usher in a flying-car utopia; Dubai, Singapore, and New Zealand have expressed similar intentions. It’s not quite clear who the target market is yet, and there is still no mention of whether driverless “flying” taxis will be economically viable, but there is a clear excitement regarding this project and we can’t wait to sit in the world’s very first flying car soon.
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