WRITTEN BY FIONA CHANG
Can flying car become reality? Have you ever imagine sitting in a flying car and move from one place to another like in the Harry Potter movie except for the part they got knocked down by Whomping Willow?
SkyDrive, a Japanese startup company, has been developing the flying car prototype SD-03 with the backing from Toyota, and they may make your dream come true in the near future. SkyDrive just conducted a test flight of SD-03 in August 2020 in Japan. It took off and landed in a vertical position. The flight lasted for 4 minutes, and had successfully landed. Chief Technology Officer of SkyDrive, Nobuo Kishi has already announced their plan of introducing the first commercial flying car in 2023.
Unlike the flying “car” in Harry Potter, this vehicle looks like a small aircraft. The SD-03 prototype is about 198 centimeter tall and 396 centimeter wide, and it can be parked in two parking spaces. It is now the smallest electric flying car in the world, which has only one seat and manned piloted. SkyDrive announced commercial flyer car release in 2023 will be a two-seated model. Price has not been released yet. Their goal in SkyDrive is to make flying cars an affordable and convenient way of transportation for everyone instead of the toy of the wealthy.
There are many startup companies trying to be the first to launch commercial flying car. Despite the fact that flying cars may change our lives forever, government authorities will need to make regulations about sky traffic rules before mass production and hitting the “road.” As we all know aircrafts are always loud, so the first issue will be how to reduce the noise. How does the aircraft be maintained, and how to recycle the used parts? Is it safe for people on the ground when there are vehicles zipping through above you?
Issue with aircraft noise, parts recycling, and safety for people travelling by air or on the ground should be further discussed, regulated before flying car become a daily view.
Flying cars may be the solution to crowded city, the ones with server traffic jam during rush hour. However, in addition to government regulations, infrastructure is one of the key factors for the flying car to become reality. There should be a vertiport, an airport for the flying car to take off and land vertically. Parking and storage spaces are required, charging system, software are necessary. If the vehicles are not autonomous, how will the pilots be trained, and how will the flights be managed?
If air transportation became a common ways to move from A to B, companies can setup the office away from city to suburban, which means rent will cost less or business owners can buy a less costly land for their properties. Employees can choose their residence freely only if their workplace is within flying radius.
Can flying car be the next trending words like electric cars, or autonomous driving? We don’t know yet, but it’s exciting to know that with advanced technology, this fiction-movie-like product will no longer be just a fantasy!