The idea of commuting around town in a flying car certainly captures the imagination. And, experts say it could be a great way to alleviate traffic and pollution in certain conditions.
- After a year of working with partner Cartivator, NEC demonstrates its version of a flying car.
- Since it didn’t catch the rideshare and electric vehicle wave, Japan intends to bring its talent and expertise to lead the way in flying cars.
- In addition to private funding, flying cars have the support of the Japanese government that plans to implement their use shipping goods and transporting people.
Several companies have flying car concepts in the works. On Monday, Japanese electronics giant NEC Corporation revealed its version in a suburb in Tokyo. In a caged-in area and without a passenger aboard, the “car” only rose to about 10 feet and hovered for less than a minute. With this successful, albeit uneventful flight, Japan announced its arrival in the flying vehicle space.
Japan wants to establish itself as a player
After establishing itself as a technology leader with the Walkman, Android robot and Prius, Japan went missing from the ridesharing and electric car revolution. They don’t intend to get left behind again with flying cars, instead planning to lead the way. In addition to the venture capital Drone Fund put together by financier Kotara Chiba, the government is in support with a strategy that plans to put flying cars to work shipping goods by 2023 and shuttling people in cities by the 2030s.
The NEC flying car, which could more accurately be described as a large, battery-powered drone with four propellers, has dimensions of about 3.9 meters long, 3.7 meters wide and 1.3 meters tall, and weighs about 150 kilograms. NEC engineers worked with Cartivator, a startup company of flying car enthusiasts, for about a year to get the model up and running. Cartivator will be responsible for mass producing the flying machine in 2026, if all goes to plan.
The next step will be to see how the flying car performs in real-life conditions cruising through the air with people aboard. Since the Japanese government granted Cartivator a permit for outdoor flights, the car now has permission to leave its cage.
Why This Matters
Flying cars are not only a super cool way to get around, but, more important, can become a tool in our arsenal for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. With its talent and history of technological innovation, Japan can help advance and define the flying vehicle industry.