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Japan Boosts Efforts For “Skydrive” Flying Car Project Launch at Tokyo 2020 Olympics

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Barely a year from the Tokyo Olympic Games in 2020, Japan is (almost) all completely geared up. And it promises the world “plenty of innovation” with state-of-the-art venue, equipment, and more for the 339 events in 33 sports.

But Japan showcasing its tech prowess to stage the Tokyo 2020 Olympics is just the tip of the iceberg.

It’s eyeing the launch of Skydrive, its very own flying car and what could be the world’s first, to light the Olympic torch at the Tokyo 2020 opening ceremony.

 Japan admits they have fallen behind the cars-of-the-future game, but are now fixed on charting the course “ahead of other countries”. And there is no better time to firmly demonstrate that than in the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

Japan has tapped “21 public and private entities” to realize the ambitious project. Spearheaded by Toyota and Cartivator, a startup backed by the car manufacturing giant, the consortium also includes industry leaders such as Boeing, Uber, ANA Holdings, Yamato Holdings, Japan Airlines, and Airbus.

SkyDrive will be a one-seated craft with large propellers on its corners, giving the impression of a quadcopter. Complete with “intuitive steering”, It will be the world’s smallest flying car measuring about 2.9 meters long, 1.3 meters wide, and 1.1 meters tall. It is target top speed will be 93 mph.

The compact, drone-like flying vehicle costs 40 million yen or US$354,000 to make, to date.

Japan wants to lead the way in satisfying certification, legislation, regulation and infrastructure procedures of the flying car project. A flying vehicle, according to the government, alleviates traffic congestion and enhances disaster management and evacuation efforts. The project, should it become a success, is also expected to impact tourism.

There years following the launch at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, or in 2023, the Skydrive will be sold to the public. Cartivator envisions to give everyone the chance to “fly in the sky anytime and anywhere” by 2050.

Elon Musk: I Don’t Think So

As the country has long been on the forefront of technological innovation, it won’t be much of a surprise to see Japan-made flying cars—with legislation and safety standards in place—in the coming years. But here’s a critic who thinks the notion of an automobile in the sky is a little far-fetched: Tesla CEO Elon Musk.

While Musk had expressed in an interview with Bloomberg he “[liked] flying things”, he is skeptical of flying cars becoming a “scalable solution”. He has pointed out several times how flying a vehicle generates a lot of downward force to avoid falling and creates anxiety-inducing buzzing noise in the process. And if it does fall, we can only imagine how it’s like for anyone on the ground to be hit by car parts.

The idea of a flying car isn’t exactly new. In January 2018, Vahana, Airbus’ flying vehicle, rose for the first time 16 feet off the ground. The one-person flying vehicle spent nearly a minute aloft. Uber, on the other hand, has a flying cars project that in the works and targeted for use by 2023.

Will Japan’s Skydrive spell the future of transport? We don’t mind it taking off before our very eyes.

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