After decades of attempts, engineers refuse to give up on building a convenient flying car.
A group of about 30 Toyota employees calling themselves Cartivator have been developing a flying car in their own time since 2012, and now the car manufacturer has decided to give them 42.5 million yen (£293,847 at current exchange rates) for really getting the project off the ground.
Until now, Cartivator had largely used online crowdfunding for financing the projecting, according to the Nikkei Asian Review, and Toyota has been unwilling to invest money into the undertaking. The firm finally changed its mind, though. “Things will not progress if you wait and provide money only when the technology is ready,” Chairman Takeshi Uchiyamada told the Nikkei Asian Review.
When not working for Toyota, the Cartivator team’s headquarters is a former school in Aichi Prefecture, Japan. Toyota City offered to let the team use the building when the school shut down. A 1/5 scale model of their flying car now takes test flights around the old school playground.
Cartivator plans to show the design for its full flying car, which it calls SkyDrive, in July 2017. The current prototype wouldn’t work as much more than a curiosity. It seats a single person in a bubble-like canopy, but the sides are open. Rotors at each corner allow for flight, and a trike layout with two wheels on the side and one in front allows for travel on the ground.
The performance targets for the SkyDrive would allow it to fly at up to 62mph and drive at up to 93mph. Cartivator wants to fly a remotely piloted version by July 2018, and put a manned version in the air by the end of that year. The team’s lofty goal is to be far enough along by the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo to light the Olympic Flame from a SkyDrive.
Toyota apparently sees merit in the flying car because in addition to funding Cartivator, the company also has a patent for a different design (above) from two of its employees in the United States.