It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s a…Toyota? The auto giant is working on ‘flying cars’

Toyota has joined the list of companies working to usher us into the age of the Jetsons, where we can hop into our flying cars and jet to work instead of commuting in bumper-to-bumper traffic on the ground.

The auto giant is working with a Japanese startup to build a ‘flying car’ called Sky Drive, which it hopes to use to light the Olympic torch when the games arrive in Tokyo in 2020.

Toyota has invested $386,000 into startup Cartivator Resource Management for the effort, according to The Associated Press, which saw a demo of the early stage aircraft.

The project still has a long way to go. A video posted by The Associated press shows the contraption — an aluminum machine with eight propellers and basketballs attached to the base to serve as cushions — taking off, hovering a few feet off the ground for several seconds, and then tilting and crashing back to Earth. The test flight ultimately had to be canceled because a propeller on the craft was damaged, AP reported.

Eventually, Cartivator wants to give the world a car that can transition seamlessly from driving to flying — like in the hit movie “Back to the Future,” project leader Tsubasa Nakamura told AP. The startup is working on a better design with help from Toyota, and hopes to have its first manned flight in 2019.

“By 2050 we aim to create a world where anyone can fly in the sky anytime and anywhere,” the startup says on its website.

Toyota isn’t the only big company promising us flying cars — technically called “vertical take-off and landing aircraft” because they don’t need a runway to take off. In April, San Francisco-based ride-hailing giant Uber said it plans to demo its version of the technology in Dallas by 2020, and hopes to ultimately offer rides by app. Other companies such as Slovakia-based AeroMobil and German Lilium Jet also are working on small flying vehicles for commuters.


Video: A video posted by The Associated Press shows a test flight of Japanese startup Cartivator Resource Management’s Sky Drive vehicle. (Associated Press)

Image: Toyota logo. (courtesy of Toyota)


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  • elkhornsun

    The flying car is the easy part of the problem to resolve. Drivers are another matter entirely as 99% have difficulty with two-dimensional space and the simple task of merging with other cars on highways. Add in someone trying to fly and post a tweet and you have a recipe for certain disaster.