Looks like Toyota is struggling to get the project off the ground.
The idea of flying cars roaming the skies in the future may seem far-fetched right now, but Toyota is trying to make it a reality. Recently, the automaker invested $350,000 into Cartivator, a startup group made up of 30 young volunteers who work for Toyota, to get an electrically-powered flying car project off the ground, with the aim of using one to light the Olympic torch at the 2020 ceremony in Tokyo. A working prototype of the “SkyDrive” was recently shown to journalists, but the demonstration didn't go according to plan.
Judging from a video taken from the event by Associated Press, the project needs some serious work. In fairness, the prototype isn’t very representative of the flying car. It’s essentially a giant drone, with some crude aluminum framing, eight propellers and basketball-style landing cushions. Oh, and it doesn’t have any room for anyone to sit in it.
As journalists gathered with anticipation to witness a test flight, the demonstration was anticlimactic, to say the least. The prototype managed to get a few feet off the ground for a couple of seconds before one of the covers detached from the frame and broke, damaging the blades and sending it crashing back onto the ground, bringing the demonstration to a swift end. Cartivator’s aim is to make driving and flying seamless, envisioning a world like Back to the Future according to the project’s leader Tsubasa Nakamura. I always loved planes and cars. And my longtime dream was to have a personal vehicle that can fly and go many places," Nakamura told The Associated Press.
Despite the setbacks, Cartivator is using the money invested by Toyota to develop a redesign of the prototype which will be released in September. Cartivator says it’s also received investment offers from other companies to help get the project off the ground. The first manned test flight of SkyDrive is planned for 2019, and the final car will be able to fly at speeds up to 62 mph. Considering the current working prototype isn’t capable of even carrying a person, the team have their work cut out to meet the 2020 deadline.