Toyota has filed a patent for its flying car design, releasing drawings to the public.
On September 26th, Toyota patented a design for a flying car. Unlike many other VTOL designs, the Toyota patent shows a vehicle that is built for city streets as well as the air. Toyota calls it a ‘Dual Mode Vehicle With Wheel Rotors.’ This means that the rotors of the VTOL themselves are actually built into the wheels of the car. When the vehicle is on the streets, the rotors of the VTOL fold into the interior of the wheel rim itself.
Here’s how the vehicle itself works: When it transitions to ‘land mode’, the arms with the rotors on each end lower down and simultaneously rotate so that the wheels sit on either side of the vehicle, like a car. Once the car is in land mode, it drives with ‘tank controls’. The wheels can only rotate forward or backward, not turn as they do on the front axle of a car. This is because unlike conventional cars, Toyota’s proposed vehicle would not have an axle.
Once the vehicle is ready to take to the air again, the arms come back up, placing the vehicle to rest on the the ‘stabilizers’ (points 110). It then is ready to fly once more. You can read the full patent here.
Last year, Toyota acquired the flying car developer, ‘Cartivator‘. At the time of acquirement, Cartivator was a fully crowdfunded small company made up of 30 engineers. It’s team is now part of Toyota’s flying car effort, called ‘SkyDrive’, which released the patent seen here. Toyota hopes to use the prototype of it’s SkyDrive vehicle to autonomously light the Olympic Torch at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
Why it’s important:
While many say the newly patented vehicle is highly unlikely to make it to consumer sales, the release of the patent shows Toyota’s direction and innovative process. The design is innovative for the industry by being one of the few ‘Dual Mode’ solutions. By releasing this patent, Toyota both pushes the industry forward and places itself at the forefront of VTOL development.