Tokyo-based aerospace company SkyDrive Inc. plans to release their domestic flying taxi service in 2023, according to a Japan Times report. According to CEO Tomohiro Fukazawa, by 2050, anyone would be able to fly to any destination within Tokyo’s 23 wards in 10 minutes or less. To bring such a service to reality, the Japanese government is aiding the aerospace company, pushing for the decongestion of traffic in urban areas, another option for disaster relief, and to provide a new mode of transportation for mountainous areas and remote islands.
SkyDrive originated from the members of Cartivator, a voluntary organization formed by former automobile and aviation engineers. Founded in July 2018, SkyDrive has since been working towards bringing aerial mobility to reality, conducting most of their tests at their facility in Toyota, Aichi Prefecture. Their concept design, the SD-XX, is one of the smaller eVTOLs currently in development at 1.5 meters tall and 4 meters by 3.5 meters across. The SD-XX would be able to fly at 100 kph, with an envisioned range of under 100 kilometers. According to Fukuzawa, SkyDrive would be able to produce eVTOLs that can run on normal roads by the late 2020s, adding extra versatility to the SD-XX which can already currently perform takeoff and landing from any flat surface.
SkyDrive’s current plans are to release their flying car service by 2023 in either Osaka or Tokyo, and release a fully autonomous commercial model for the general public by 2028. Initial flights would take place over the sea, to mitigate any initial risk of flying over highly urban areas. Fukuzawa expects to have 1000 people riding by the second year of service, in 2024. While mostly autonomous, initial flights would have a pilot as well in case of emergency. Final costs are not yet determined, but would be “significantly less than a helicopter flight”. While the service would initially be domestic, SkyDrive intends to eventually expand overseas, especially into Southeast Asia.
Two of the biggest hurdles will be certification for commercial flights and ensuring the same safety and reliability as that of existing aircraft, according to Fukuzawa, but the expectation is that they will achieve commercial certification in 2 years.
“About 100 years have passed since the debut of the Ford Model T, and we’re about to introduce an air taxi service in 2023, paving the way to achieve air travel anywhere without a need for roads or train tracks. There are many other rivals in Europe and the United States, but we’d like to manufacture a vehicle that provides a comfortable ride with “Made in Japan” quality.”
Why it’s important: Change in human mobility happens roughly once a century, and CEO Fukuzawa is confident that SkyDrive will be the one to bring about the next “mobility revolution”. With a multitude of companies planning to offer their own aerial rideshare services, SkyDrive in Japan will be one to watch out for, especially as their commercial certification date grows nearer.
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Source // Japan Times