A drone-like electric aircraft developed by a startup in Japan has taken an important step towards commercialization after receiving a government safety certificate.
Tokyo-based SkyDrive unveiled an early version of its electric vertical take-off-and-landing (eVTOL) vehicle in 2018 before completing its first piloted test flight last year.
The current design of SkyDrive’s “flying car” SD-03 has a single seat with a body the size of a small car. Resembling a large drone, it flies with eight propellers (two sets at the end of four arms) and can reach speeds of 30 mph (about 50 km / h) for trips of up to 10 minutes.
The following video, shared by the company earlier this year, shows the flying machine in action.
In the past few days, the Japanese Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism (MLIT) issued a certificate Confirmation that the design, structure, strength and performance of the SD-03 meet the necessary safety and environmental requirements for such an aircraft. SkyDrive says this is the first time MLIT has accepted a flying car application.
The certification puts SkyDrive on track to commercialize the aircraft in 2025. If it can overcome the remaining regulatory hurdles, it plans to use the SD-03 for an air taxi service during the Osaka Kansai Expo that same year.
That suggests that SkyDrive needs to develop a fully autonomous SD-03 or, if a pilot is required, build a larger version of the aircraft with additional seats for passengers.
The Tokyo-based company said it was “delighted” to receive certification, adding that it “will continue to work closely with the government and MLIT to complete our development of a completely safe and reliable flying car.”
SkyDrive is one of a growing number of companies around the world hoping to thrive in the flying taxi market.
Another Japanese company showed a remarkable hoverbike on a successful test flight just a few days ago. The manufacturer hopes to sell the machine for around $ 680,000 next year, though, like SkyDrive’s planes, regulators have the final say on whether they can fly in the skies and what type of flights it can perform.
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