Testing the e Vitol aircraft. Is Japan the first to regulate air traffic?


Among the countless companies with “flying car” projects around the world, Japan’s SkyDrive has carried out a successful but modest test flight with one person on board the eVTOL.

In a video shown to reporters on Friday, a strange tool resembling a smooth motorcycle with propellers rose several feet from the ground and hovered in an area for four minutes.

Tomohiro Fukuzawa, who heads SkyDrive’s efforts, said he hoped the “flying car” would become a realistic product by 2023, but acknowledged that making it safe was crucial.

“Of the more than 100 flying car projects in the world, only a few have successfully flyed with someone on board,” he told The Associated Press, adding, “I hope a lot of people want to ride them and feel safe.”

Fukuzawa said the machine can fly so far for only five to 10 minutes, but if it can reach 30 minutes, it will have more potential.

Battery sizes, air traffic control and other infrastructure issues are among many potential marketing challenges.

“A lot of things have to happen,” said Sanjeev Singh, a professor at carnegie mellon University’s Robotics Institute, who co-founded The Near Earth Autonomic, near Pittsburgh, who also works on an E Vitol.

“If it costs $10 million, no one will buy it,” he said. If it flies for five minutes, no one will buy it,” he said, adding that “if it falls from the sky often, no one will buy it either.”

SkyDrive began as a volunteer project called Cartivator in 2012, funded by major Japanese companies including automaker Toyota, electronics company Panasonic and video game developer Bandai Namco.

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