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The decades-old dream of zipping around within the sky as simply as driving on highways could also be becoming less illusory.
A Japanese flying car project is one step closer to beginning into the mainstream.
Japan’s SkyDrive Inc., among the myriads of “flying car” projects round the world, has administered a successful though modest test flight with one person aboard.
In a video shown to reporters on Friday, a contraption that seemed like a slick motorcycle with propellers lifted several feet (1-2 meters) off the ground, and hovered in a netted area for four minutes.
The flying car may be a fantasy cliché and a technical problem. A new Japanese model has wings, is stable if you know how to drive it, and features a range of 5km thanks to battery issues. ...So now what happens?
The machine thus far can fly for just 5 to10 minutes, but if which will become half-hour it'll have more potential, including within the Chinese market, Fukuzawa said. the Japanese government is stressing the likelihood of connecting remote areas and providing lifelines in disasters.
Tomohiro Fukuzawa, who heads the SkyDrive effort, said he hopes “the flying cars” are often made into a real-life product by 2023, but he acknowledged that creating it safe was critical.
“Of the world’s more than 100 flying car projects, only a few has succeeded with an individual on board,” he told The Associated Press.
“I hope many of us will want to ride it and feel safe.”
Op-Ed: Flying cars have arrived — Now what can we do? Anything sane?
The car comes with a Japanese government initiative involving government agencies private enterprise to make a working system for flying traffic.
Of course, it’s not an easy process. The thought of pilotless flying cars, like driverless cars, require bulletproof testing outcomes. Safety is critical, and this stuff will need sensors and safeguards like no vehicle before.
Before being extremely critical
To be fair about this idea:
• Flying cars might be excellent emergency vehicles.
• They will access some urban and other places much more quickly than road-bound traffic.
• They will reduce the carbon impacts of conventional vehicles. (They use batteries and maybe later supercapacitors.)
• They might be tons of fun, during a safe environment.
• They might reduce the demand for road infrastructure in pristine areas.
• As commuter vehicles, they’d be less toxic than the typical car.
• If they’re quiet, they might seriously reduce sound pollution.
The trouble with traffic
Unlike airplanes and helicopters, eVTOL, or “electric vertical takeoff and landing,” vehicles offer quick point-to-point personal travel, at least in principle.
They could do away with the effort of airports and traffic jams and therefore the cost of hiring pilots might fly automatically.
Battery sizes, traffic control and other infrastructure issues are among the various potential challenges to commercializing them.
“Many things need to happen,” said Sanjiv Singh, professor at the Robotics Institute at Carnegie Mellon University, who co-founded Near Earth Autonomy, near Pittsburgh, which is additionally performing on an eVTOL aircraft.
“If they cost $10 million, nobody goes shopping for them. If they fly for five minutes, nobody goes shopping for them. If they fall out of the sky every so often, nobody goes shopping for them,” Singh said during an interview.
The SkyDrive project began humbly as a volunteer project called Cartivator in 2012, with funding by top Japanese companies including automaker Toyota Motor Corp., company Panasonic Corp. and video-game developer Bandai Namco.
A demonstration flight three years ago went poorly. But it's improved and therefore the project recently received another round of funding, of 3.9 billion yen ($37 million), including from the event Bank of Japan.
The Japanese government is bullish on “the Jetsons” vision, with a “road map” for business services by 2023, and expanded commercial use by the 2030s, stressing its potential for connecting remote areas and providing lifelines in disasters.
Experts compare the excitement over flying cars to the times when the aviation industry got started with the Wright Brothers and therefore the auto industry with the Ford Model T.
Lilium of Germany, Joby Aviation in California and Wisk, a venture between Boeing Co. and Kitty Hawk Corp., also are performing on eVTOL projects.
Sebastian Thrun, chief executive of Kitty Hawk, said it took time for airplanes, cell phones and self-driving cars to win acceptance.
“But the time between technology and social adoption could be more compressed for eVTOL vehicles,” he said.
…So the thought of flying cars clogging the sky also leaves quite a touch to be desired. In practice, this stuff isn’t really cars. They’re aerial transport, to be “managed” by owners. That’s not a recipe for unlimited confidence in high volume transit.