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Will Japan Have Flying Taxis by 2023?

Slashdot reader damitr shared IEEE Spectrum’s look at Japan’s push for flying taxi services:

Last year, Spectrum reported on Japan’s public-private initiative to create a new industry around electric vertical takeoff and landing vehicles and flying cars. Last Friday [August 28th], start-up company SkyDrive Inc. demonstrated the progress made since then when it held a press conference to spotlight its prototype vehicle and show reporters a video taken three days earlier of the craft undergoing a piloted test flight in front of staff and investors…

In May, SkyDrive unveiled a drone for commercial use that is based on the same drive and power systems as the SD-03. Named the Cargo Drone, it’s able to transport payloads of up to 30 kg and can be preprogrammed to fly autonomously or be piloted manually. It will be operated as a service by SkyDrive, starting at a minimum monthly rental charge of 380,000 yen ($3,600) that rises according to the purpose and frequency of use….

Tomohiro Fukuzawa, SkyDrive’s CEO, established SkyDrive in 2018 after leaving Toyota Motor and working with Cartivator, a group of volunteer engineers interested in developing flying cars. SkyDrive now has a staff of fifty. Also in 2018, the Japanese government formed the Public-Private Conference for Air Mobility made up of private companies, universities, and government ministries. The stated aim was to make flying vehicles a reality by 2023… Fukuzawa is also targeting 2023 to begin taxi services (single passenger and pilot) in the Osaka Bay area, flying between locations like Kansai and Kobe airports and tourist attractions such as Universal Studios Japan. These flights will take less than ten minutes — a practical nod to the limitations of the battery energy storage system.

“What SkyDrive is proposing is entirely do-able,” says Steve Wright, Senior Research Fellow in Avionics and Aircraft Systems at the University of West England. “Almost all rotor-only electric vertical takeoff and landing vehicles projects are limited to sub-30-minute endurance, which, with safety reserves, equate to about 10 to 20 minutes flying.”


Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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