Japan’s transport ministry has begun full-scale talks on safety standards and other key issues regarding commercial and private use of flying cars. The transport ministry is planning to establish standards on requirements for performance and safety, as well as a licensing system by the end of 2023, which would apply to all flying cars in Japan. Additionally, the ministry is also looking to establish related infrastructure by 2023 and for flying vehicles to start flying in safe areas where there are no people around.

According to The Japan Times, “The ministry will hold discussions on the performance of such vehicles, including vehicle stability, weight and flying range, and on safety standards such as collision avoidance systems. It will also debate whether to create a dedicated license for flying car pilots.”

The SkyDrive Inc. SD-03 flying car is test-flown during a demonstration to the media at the Toyota Test Field in Toyota City, Aichi Prefecture, Japan, on Tuesday, Aug. 25, 2020.  Photograph: Toru Hanai/Bloomberg

Recently in April 2021, the transport ministry announced the establishment of a dedicated department “that will draw up guidelines as early as this autumn on procedures needed for companies to conduct test flights of vehicles currently under development,” according to The Japan Times. Gradually introducing such vehicles to transport goods, save lives at times of disaster and as a method of transportation in underpopulated areas and remote islands, the ministry plans to start flying car operations in urban areas in the 2030s. The ultimate goal is to produce flying vehicles that are maneuverable, fit for daily use, and cheaper than helicopters.

Japanese startup SkyDrive Inc. conducted a test flight of a pilotless vehicle controlled remotely in December 2018. The Tokyo-based company successfully conducted a manned test flight in August last year. According to the ministry, future tests conducted outdoors will require companies to obtain approval from the transport minister under the civil aeronautics act, and must also submit documents including blueprints of the flying car prototype, licenses including those to fly helicopters and a plan of measures to mitigate accident risks.

Photograph: SkyDrive

Why it’s important: The key goal for these talks is for Japan to establish a set of simple, easy to conduct procedures that still ensure performance and safety standards being met. In the future, the ministry plans to create guidelines that are easy for companies conducting tests for the first time to understand, where its new department will act as a point of contact, allowing companies to complete one-stop procedures, a move that should greatly improve flying car development in Japan.

Source // The Japan Times

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