SkyDrive, the Tokyo-based startup developing a personal eVTOL aircraft, revealed its ultra-light compact flying car, the SD-03, on the show floor at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) this week.
That makes it the first time the company has showcased its technology outside of Japan, a symbol of the global ambitions of the firm, which aims to kickstart a flying taxi service by 2025.
A flying car built for 'door-to-door' transportation
"SkyDrive's flying car is designed to vertically take off and land with superb stability and this emission-free electric vehicle enables fast and safe door-to-door transportation anywhere, including uses for emergency rescue," the company said in its release.
And that isn't just marketing speak. In November last year, we reported that the SD-03 was the first flying car model to be granted a safety certificate by authorities in Japan. At the time, the company said the certificate showed that its flying car's "design, structure, strength, and performance meet the necessary safety and environmental requirements." In SkyDrive's new press statement, the company reveals that its next model, the SD-05, is under development and the company aims to release it as an air taxi for World Expo 2025 in Osaka.
"The SD-03 model is the culmination of our expertise in drone technologies and aerodynamic engineering. What we want to see in the future is that SkyDrive's emission-free vehicles take off from and land in your parking lot and helipads atop buildings, making door-to-door air travel a realistic choice of daily urban transportation," SkyDrive Chief Operating Officer Takehiro Sato said. "We are working harder and faster than ever to make this once-in-a-century mobility revolution a reality."
Flying taxis services will soon take flight
SkyDrive first unveiled its flying car prototype in 2018, before it successfully conducted flight tests in 2020. The latest iteration, the SD-03, features eight propellers and reaches a top speed of 30 mph (48 km/h) for trips of up to 10 minutes. The company has released footage of the flying car in action (see above), and it also runs a 30 Kg-payload cargo drone service in Japan.
Another Japanese startup, the Mitsubishi-backed A.L.I. Technologies, is developing a startlingly similar hoverbike concept, which will be priced at a mouthwatering $680,000. SkyDrives plans to kickstart services by 2025 put it on a similar timeline to the likes of Lilium and Volocopter. The latter recently announced it aims to kickstart its eVTOL flying taxi services by 2023 in Paris and Singapore. If all goes to plan, the 2020s may well be the decade in which flying taxis truly take flight.