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SkyDrive’s flying car took flight in the early evening hours in late August. Lean, sleek, and small like a futuristic race car without wheels, its pearl white body was chosen to represent “white birds and the floating clouds in the sky of users’ future.” It looks like one of George Lucas’ Star Wars prequel vehicles. 

A pair of propellers working in tandem lifted it into the sky, high above the 2.5 acre Toyota Field in Japan and home to SkyDrive’s development base. Two white lights in the front and red lights running around the bottom of the body, which is unique to flying cars, made it easier for observers to tell which direction the flying car was headed as it floated in the sky.

The pilot wasn’t completely alone controlling the single-seat SD-03, also known as the world’s smallest electric Vertical Take-Off and Landing Vehicle. A computer-assisted control system also helped to ensure flight stability and safety. The technical staff on the field monitored the flight conditions and aircraft performance as backup.   

The single-seat SD-03 flew for four minutes, circling the test field in the first of several public test flights scheduled in order to improve its technologies and achieve full compliance with provisions of the Civil Aeronautics Act, according to SkyDrive’s Aug. 28 press release.

SkyDrive, the world’s leading developer of urban air mobility solutions, plans to obtain approval for flights outside the limits of the Toyota Test Field by the end of this year in hopes that its aircraft will become “people’s partner in the sky rather than merely a commodity.” 

It seems the flying car future promised by Ross Perot Jr.’s Hillwood and Uber Elevate is quickly becoming a reality for North Texans.  Frisco aims to become one of the first cities to offer travel via flying car. A helipad was constructed at Frisco Station in 2019, and Uber hopes to have flying transport in the air by 2023. It’s a dream shared by many people across the globe.

“We want to realize a society where flying cars are an accessible and convenient means of transportation in the skies and people are able to experience a safe, secure, and comfortable new way of life,” SkyDrive CEO Tomohiro Fukuzawa said in the Aug. 28 press release. “We also aspire to develop markets around the world, in collaboration with our partner companies, so that an urban air mobility society with aircraft supplied by SkyDrive becomes a reality not only in Japan but also across the globe.

SD-03, eVTOL / SkyDrive

Fukuzawa pointed out in the press release that the company was founded in 2018 with the goal of commercializing a small aircraft like the single-seat SD-03. They’re aiming to take their social experiment to the next level in 2023. They plan to accelerate their technological development and business development to achieve it. 

According to a Aug. 11 Japan Times article, Fukuzawa is convinced that people will be using flying cars by 2050. Global demand for the eVTOL is expected to reach $1.5 trillion by 2040, Morgan Stanley, the global leader in investment research, reported in 2019.  

With a considerable sense of speed, SkyDrive has been working on the design of the electric propulsion systems, flight control systems, aircraft structures, testing, manufacturing, and monitoring equipment of aircraft conditions during flight testing step by step for about two years now, according to Nobuo Kishi, CTO of SkyDrive.  

SD-03 eVTOL / SkyDrive

The single-seat SD-03 is about the size of an automobile and only requires two parking spaces. It’s powered by motors that drive rotors deployed in four locations, each housing two rotors that individually rotate in opposite directions and driven by its own motor. SkyDrive claims the use of eight motors helps ensure safety in emergency situations during flight. 

SkyDrive’s design director Takumi Yamamot said they were delving into unexplored territory when they began designing the flying car. They chose the keyword “progressive” for inspiration. 

“We wanted this vehicle to be futuristic, charismatic, and desirable for all future customers, while fully incorporating the high technology of SkyDrive,” Yamamot said. “We believe that this vehicle will play an active role as your travel companion, a compact coupe flying in the sky. As a pioneer of a new genre, we would like to continue designing the vehicles that everyone dreams of.” 

For information about SkyDrive visit: en.skydrive2020.com

Christian McPhate

Christian McPhate is the managing editor of Local Profile. He has been working as a journalist for more than a decade. His work has appeared in a number of publications, including the Dallas Morning News,...