According to a recent article by Nissei Asian Review, researchers at Cartivator, an automobile engineering group led by Tsubasa Nakamura are moving forward with the development of the SkyDrive, a drone-like flying car for personal use. The group is aiming to presenting the flying car during the opening ceremony of the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo.
The SkyDrive is a three-wheeled vehicle with propellers mounted on its four corners. The image it presents is that of a rectangular multicopter or drone that is also equipped with wheels and a cockpit. While the design has been widely acclaimed, Nakamura said Cartivator has to overcome multiple obstacles before SkyDrive can be commercialized. He says the team is aiming for SkyDrive to reach a maximum driving speed of roughly 93 mph and a maximum flying speed of 62 mph.
As the team adds more components to SkyDrive to ensure its safety, the vehicle gets heavier, making it harder to control. That is why Nakamura’s plan is to make the body from carbon-fiber reinforced plastic (CFRP), a much lighter material than steel.
“The SkyDrive’s weight must be at most one-tenth that of a normal automobile,” Nakamura explained.
Another feature that Nakamura and co. are looking into is a chassis that is controlled by the operator shifting their body weight, without the need for a steering wheel. For example, when the person leans forward, the speed of the front two propellers would drop so that the vehicle tilts and moves forward.
According to Nakamura, SkyDrive could start out as an emergency vehicle.
“Even if the roads are congested, it could fly and swiftly arrive at the patient’s location,” Nakamura says. He adds it could also be used to fly over areas where driving a regular car is impossible. If so, it could even be used to travel in places where traffic infrastructure is incomplete, leading Nakamura to speculate that the vehicle may completely “change the layout of cities” by reshaping the need for infrastructure.