Behind the somewhat underwhelming, drama-free demonstration lies a bigger ambition: Japan’s government wants the country to become a leader in flying cars after missing out on advancements in technology such as electric cars and ride-hailing services. The country’s technological roadmap calls for shipping goods by flying cars by around 2023 and letting people ride in flying cars in cities by the 2030s.
“Japan is a densely populated country and that means flying cars could greatly alleviate the burden on road traffic,” said Kouji Okada, a leader of the project at NEC. “We are positioning ourselves as an enabler for air mobility, providing location data and building communications infrastructure for flying cars.”
For the past few years, Japan has seen the emergence of a small, passionate flying-car community that believes Japan has the engineering expertise and right environment to foster a global flying car industry. Venture capitalists in the country set up a specialized fund, known as the Drone Fund, devoted to investing in autonomous aircraft in general and flying-car businesses in particular.
NEC engineers and Cartivator, which it sponsors, spent about a year developing the model. It’s about 3.9 meters long, 3.7 meters wide and 1.3 meters tall, and weighs about 150 kilograms. It’s being tested in a large 10-meter-by-20-meter cage that’s 2 meters tall, to make sure it doesn’t fly out of control and injure someone, or cause damage.
Japan isn’t the only country seeking to usher in a flying-car utopia; Dubai, Singapore, and New Zealand have expressed similar intentions. Google co-founder Larry Page’s Kitty Hawk Corp. is also working on a flying car, as is Uber Technologies Inc.
Eventually, NEC’s flying car will be set free: Cartivator has been granted a permit for outdoor flights by Japanese government.
Read the original article here.