The Japanese government plans to build prototype electric flying cars and conduct test-flights next year, hoping to put the technology into practical use in the 2020s.
The government expects flying vehicles to be used for leisure activities and cargo transportation in the 2020s, and also for transportation in rural areas, Kyodo news reported on Sunday. By the 2030s, they are envisioned to be used in urban transportation.
The government also plans to decide on mechanical standards for the vehicles and technical skills required for drivers, as well as laws to ensure safety.
The plan is to make flying cars as safe as airplanes but to also make them produce low noise.
The plan was proposed at a meeting joined by officials from the industry ministry, airplane manufacturers and airline companies. The draft will be endorsed by the officials by the end of the year.
According to government officials, the Tokyo metropolitan government and some local governments have offered to have sites available for the test-flights.
Flying cars will be used initially on remote islands and in mountainous areas, and the government will coordinate landing areas and airspace.
The government's future plan also see the flying vehicles to be able to be remotely controlled and autonomously, according to the draft.
U.S. ride-hailing service provider Uber Technologies Inc. has also talked about VTOL (Vertical Take-Off and Landing) vehicles designed at car size.
The company is currently planning on launching pilot program for "Uber Elevate" flying taxies in Dallas and Los Angelas. Uber has been working on this project since 2016, and hopes to put such cars into practical use by 2023.
French-based airplane manufacturer Airbus tested a one-person flying vehicle in January, has unveiled a plan to
Of course, there’s no infrastructure to support them, and a whole new set of auto laws would have to be drawn up to regulate them (like personal drones, but a thousand times worse). The first commercial VTOLs are expected to be taxi services built to shuttle people from part of a city to another.
First self-driving car test in Japan
While flying car concept sounds optimistic, self-driving cards are closer to become a reality.
The Aichi prefectural government conducted Saturday a test in which two driverless cars were operated together using autonomous driving technology, a feat they claim is a first in Japan.
The closed road test, involving Nagoya University, mobile phone carrier KDDI Corp and seven other firms, drove a minivan and a remodeled golf cart through a zoo and botanical garden in Toyohashi in the central Japan prefecture.
After having the 1.5-kilometer bus route uploaded to the system, the two vehicles drove at a distance of 30 meters while traveling at less than 7 km per hour. Steering input, the accelerator and brake are applied automatically, but the brakes can be controlled remotely by a human in case of emergency.
When an in-car sensor detected obstacles on the road, the cars stopped automatically and contacted a support center in Tokyo to make sure there were no passengers injured.
The prefecture plans to introduce the self-driving vehicles to an internal transport service in the park as well using them in a taxi service for the elderly in sparsely populated areas.