Toyota-backed SkyDrive has finally conducted a public, crewed test flight (via Observer) for its flying car after years of work. The startup flew its SD-03 vehicle around the Toyota Test Field in the city of Toyota with a pilot at the helm. While it wasn’t autonomous, as you might have guessed, it showed that the aircraft could work as promised in the field.
The SD-03 is billed as the smallest electric VTOL (vertical take-off and landing) vehicle in the world, and it’s meant to usher in a “new means of transportation” for urban life. It has a total of eight rotors that help it fly safely even if there’s a motor failure.
It could be a long time before you see SkyDrive flying cars in action. The company is hoping for approval for flights beyond the test field by the end of 2020, and it expects a two-seat commercial machine by 2023. That lines up with Japan’s timeline for launching flying taxi service. Even so, this is another hint at a future where small, short-hop aircraft could help alleviate traffic (and ideally, speed up trips) in crowded cities.