Japanese startup SkyDrive has released a video showing the first successful piloted test flight of its SD-03 flying car.
The SD-03 is punted as the world’s smallest electric VTOL (vehicle take-off and landing) vehicle.
VTOLs differ from conventional aircraft in that they don’t require an airfield or landing pad for lift off and landings.
Given the mobility and size of single-seater variants, they are generally referred to as flying cars.
SkyDrive, which is backed by Toyota, believes flying cars can be used as a means of transportation to ease traffic jams and respond in times of disaster, particularly in developed countries.
Measuring about four metres long, four metres wide, and two metres high, the SD-03 has a footprint equal to around two average parking spaces.
The current prototype features a single-seat cockpit and is powered by four pairs of propellers and a battery pack.
It can fly for between five to ten minutes at only a few kilometres per hour.
During the test, the vehicle was lifted to six feet above the ground and manoeuvred within a netted area in the Toyota test field for around three minutes.
A pilot sat at the controls, but a computer-assisted control system helped ensure flight stability and safety, while technical staff at the field monitored flight conditions and aircraft performance.
SkyDrive hopes to get approval to take the SD-03 beyond the test field before the end of 2020.
For its next step, the company is planning to increase the maximum speed of the vehicle up to 60 km/h, with a flight duration of 30 minutes.
This would make it capable of a range of 30km between charges, which the company believes would be sufficient to justify exporting it to other countries.
Toyota and SkyDrive plan to launch a two-seat commercial version of the SD-03 by 2023, the same year in which the Japanese government is aiming to have a flying taxi service in dense cities like Tokyo and Osaka.
The videos below show SkyDrive’s first piloted test flight of the SD-03 EVTOL.