Japan is building a flying car for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics
Japan has a lot to live up to when it comes to the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. Not only does everyone expect an Olympic host to show off the best aspects of its culture, it’s also a stage to show your nation’s prowess – just look at China’s opening ceremony for the Beijing 2008 Olympics.
For Japan, the answer to this conundrum is to build a flying car to light the Olympic torch with – I kid you not.
SkyDrive – the vehicle in question – is in the design and production stage at Japanese engineer group Cart!vator and is being tested in an abolished primary school owned by Toyota. The finished one-seater car is expected to be around 3.5 metres long and 1.3 metres wide. It’ll have three wheels allowing it to drive, and use four swivelling rotors for vertical take-off and landing, as well as piloting the car in the air.
Cart!vator’s plans for SkyDrive extend beyond the Tokyo Olympics as the company, and it’s creator Tsubasa Nakamura, hope to bring its flying car to the masses creating “a new era where everyone can fly freely”.
A prototype of SkyDrive was demonstrated at 2014’s Maker Faire Tokyo, although it was only one-fifth of the size. As Cart!vator look to build it into a full-scale vehicle it’ll encounter greater issues around lifting both a heavier frame and a heavier passenger. Also, how do you keep a torch from going out when flying around an arena at speed?
Still, the team believes that with enough technological innovation in the battery performance, their product could really become commercially viable. That said, Cart!vator also believes it’ll only need ¥30m (£235,000) to create a working full-scale device for a manned test flight.
Regardless of if this project ever actually gets off the ground (sorry, not sorry), with Japanese prime minister Shinzō Abe having already dressed as Mario, the Tokyo 2020 Olympic opening ceremony should definitely be an interesting experience.