Toyota Flying Car News: Automaker Backs Skydrive Project of Employees

Reuters/Lucas JacksonThe DeLorean DMC-12 inspired a lot of people’s flying car dreams when it was featured in the “Back to the Future” film franchise.

Riding in a flying car à la the Jetsons has been a pipe dream for many. However, given all the technological advancements that society has achieved, is it possible that this concept is no longer impossible in this day and age? Toyota is definitely doing its part as it recently backed a flying car project.

According to Nikkei Asian Review, the Japanese automaker has decided to provide financial assistance to Cartivator, a group of employees who had been working on a drone-like vehicle called Skydrive during their spare time.

Skydrive is a small flying car that is 9.5 foot long, 4.3 wide and 3.6 foot tall. It can fly as high as 33 feet with speeds of up to 62 miles per hour (mph).

Prior to Toyota's 40 million yen (about $373,000) investment, Cartivator had mainly relied on crowdfunding to further Skydrive's development. The project is led by Tsubasa Nakamura and is joined by 30 members. They had also received assistance from Tokushima University associate professor and drone expert Masafumi Miwa as well as GungHo Online Entertainment founder, Taizo Son.

With Toyota's support, Cartivator hopes to create a prototype that is ready for a manned test flight by the end of 2018. The group's goal is for Skydrive to light the Olympic flame during the 2020 Summer Olympics in Japan. Then, for the near future, Cartivator expressed plans for Skydrive to become a ride-hailing flying car service.

Seeing merit in the future of flying cars, a source familiar with the matter said that Toyota invested in Skydrive because chairman Takeshi Uchiyama believes that "things will not progress if you wait and provide money only when the technology is ready."

As innovative as a flying car may be, Toyota and Cartivator are not alone in this endeavor. Back in March, Airbus and Audi's Italdesign unveiled the Pop.Up concept, a vehicle with a modular upper body that can be airlifted by a drone.

Indeed, if proven to be a viable mode of transportation, flying cars could be the solution to polluted and congested megacities. However, before that, flying cars will have to overcome a lot of hurdles including safety regulations and government approval, among others.