SkyDrive Pushing Closer to Dream of Flying Cars

Japanese startup SkyDrive Inc. is looking to fly above the crowd — almost literally, as it brought its Cartivator zero-emissions flying vehicle to CES 2022 for people to check out.

SkyDrive interview CES 2022
Japanese startup SkyDrive Inc. brought its functional prototype electric flying car to CES 2022.

SkyDrive’s goal of creating a zero-emission vehicle with vertical take off and landing, or VTOL, capability isn’t unique as Hyundai, General Motors and several other companies are working on similar projects. The company’s SD-03, nicknamed Cartivator, or so it says on the sides of the one-person craft, has already begun low-altitude testing runs in Japan.

“The SD-03 model is the culmination of our expertise in drone technologies and aerodynamic engineering,” SkyDrive Chief Operating Officer Takehiro Sato said in a statement.

“What we want to see in the future is that SkyDrive’s emission-free vehicles take off from and land in your parking lot and helipads atop buildings, making door-to-door air travel a realistic choice of daily urban transportation. We are working harder and faster than ever to make this once-in-a-century mobility revolution a reality.”

What is it?

The SD-03 is about 13 feet long by 13 feet wide and 6.5 feet high and is powered by an electric motor. It uses eight propellers (two stacked on top of each other at each corner of the vehicle) for lift and direction. It weighs a little more than 880 pounds.

For now, it flies at a top speed of about 30 mph with a flight time of five to 10 minutes, depending upon speed and conditions, according to the company.

SkyDrive reveal at CES 2022
The goal is make this vehicle available to the public by 2025, officials noted.

The company’s tested the vehicle several times, flying it under very controlled conditions: about 10 to 12 feet off the ground and limited it to simple maneuvers, such as a figure eight. The goal to have one ready for the public by 2025, officials noted.

What will it be?

Mark Blackwell, SkyDrive’s research and development manager, said during CES the company is looking to have the vehicle “certifiable” by 2025. He noted more work needed to be done on the vehicle, such as decreasing the noise, improving the safety and increase the range “so there will be design changes.”

By 2030 the craft should have a range of 20 kilometers and be autonomous, he said, adding the “user will be effectively a flight planner.” 

Blackwell was quick to remind that these vehicles have all the redundancies built into them that aircraft do to ensure their safety. It’s able to effectively handle situations like bird strikes or a battery failure and allow the vehicle to land safely nearby or even, depending upon the situation complete the original planned trip.

“We build this vehicle, this whole company is built around safety,” he said. “Without safety the company doesn’t exist.”

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