Vehicles that will one day fly above the cities of the future have taken a step closer to reality, thanks to a project being funded by one of the world’s largest car manufacturers.
Toyota has invested in a group of its employees who have been working on developing a flying car in their spare time.
And a manned test flight of the concept, dubbed Skydrive, is planned by the end of 2018.
The ideas behind Skydrive began life in 2012, when Tsubasa Nakamura and a group of his friends won a competition with their initial design for a flying vehicle, under the team name Cartivator.
The team of 30 began developing Skydrive in 2014 and since then the project has gone from strength to strength, gaining funding and successfully testing out proof of concept scale models.
But with Toyota now behind the plans, a full scale prototype will be developed for an eventual manned test flight.
The motor corporation, based in Aichi, Japan, is investing 40 million yen (£272,000 / $350,000) to help Skydrive become reality.
Cartivator hopes that a working version will be available by 2020, so that Skydrive can light the flame at the Olympic games being held in Tokyo that year.
Toyota decided to get on board with the project because Chairman Takeshi Uchiyamada decided ‘things will not progress if you wait and provide money only when the technology is ready’, according to a source quoted in Nikkei Asia Review.
Skydrive will be 9.5 feet (2.9 metres) long, 4.3 feet (1.3 metres) wide and 3.6 feet (1.1 metres) high, which the manufacturers claim will make it the world’s smallest flying car.
It has a target flight speed of 62 miles (100 kilometres) an hour and a driving speed of 93 miles (150 kilometres) per hour.
Skydrive features technology commonly found in drones, including the use of four rotor blades (pictured). By varying the speed of each rotor, the direction of travel can be controlled
It will hover at a height of less than three feet (ten metres) above the ground and will use vertical takeoff and landing technology, which does not require roads or runways.
Cartivator believes a commercial version will go on sale to the public by 2023 and Skydrive could be available to the mass market as early as 2030, according to the firm’s website.
Flying cars were once the preserve of science fiction, but thanks to developments in technology, a number of firms are exploring them as a viable mode of transport.
And this is not the first time that Toyota has explored this option.