It's Official. Japan Granted a Safety Certificate to a Flying Car, for the First Time

And it could become a flying taxi service by 2025.
Chris Young
The SD-03.SkyDrive

SkyDrive, the Tokyo-based startup developing an eVTOL flying car concept, revealed that it has been granted a safety certificate by Japan's Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport, and Tourism (MLIT), a press statement reveals.

SkyDrive first revealed its early flying car prototype to the world in 2018, before it went on to successfully conduct its first piloted test flight last year.

Developing a 'wholly safe and reliable flying car'

The latest iteration of SkyDrive's drone-like flying car is called the SD-03. It uses eight propellers (two at the end of an arm at each corner) and reaches a top speed of 30 mph (48 km/h) for trips of up to 10 minutes. 

The safety certificate from Japan's MLIT confirms that the "design, structure, strength, and performance meet the necessary safety and environmental requirements," SkyDrive explains in its statement. The company says it is "very pleased" to have been awarded the certification, and added that it will "continue to work in close partnership with the government and MLIT to complete [its] development of a wholly safe and reliable flying car."

The company also states that it is the first time that MLIT has granted the certificate to a flying car. SkyDrive, which currently runs a 30 Kg-payload cargo drone service in Japan, aims to launch a flying taxi service with SD-03 in Japan's Osaka Bay area as early as 2025. The video below shows SkyDrive's piloted flying car in action earlier this year.

The 2020s are set to go down as the decade of flying cars

SkyDrive's 2025 timeline is roughly in line with that of flying taxi firms such as Volocopter's plans to launch their services by 2023. However, SkyDrive's model is arguably a lot more dangerous seeing as it doesn't feature a closed cabin. It also has much fewer engines than models such as Lilium's 7-seater eVTOL aircraft, which comes with 36 ducted electric fans for added redundancy. SkyDrive has yet to announce whether it will build a larger closed cabin model of the SD-03 that fits more passengers, or whether it will add autonomous capabilities and other safety features to the flying machine.

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SkyDrive's SD-03, with its open cabin and one-person seating, arguably resembles a hoverbike more than a flying car. Another Japanese startup, A.L.I. Technologies recently unveiled a strikingly similar hoverbike. The firm, which is backed by Mitsubishi Electric and Kyocera, plans to deliver a limited run of its model to customers as soon as next year for the cool price of $680,000. For the time being, it looks like the SD-03 will not be sold separately and, instead, will form part of SkyDrive's drone as a service model.

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