Flying cars are edging closer to reality by the day, and a new partnership between Suzuki and Japanese startup SkyDrive is the latest and strongest-backed entrant into the space.
Rather than initially aiming at personal mobility, the partnership is instead looking to launch a fleet of air taxis in 2025 at the World Exposition in Osaka, Japan, with the service covering the entire Osaka Bay area.
The flying car Suzuki and SkyDrive have created, named the SD-XX, is an eVTOL aircraft, meaning it is capable of electric vertical takeoff and landing.
However, this eVTOL aircraft doesn’t face the same limitations of others of its kind, as it can be driven away after landing rather than having to take off and land in a fixed location.
Helping the SD-XX do this is its compact and relatively car-like size, measuring about 4m (13ft) long, 3.5m (11.5ft) wide, and 1.5m (5ft) tall.
Utilising a tandem two seat layout, the SD-XX is powered by eight propellers, enabling it to fly at a maximum altitude of 500m (1,640ft) while moving at 100kmh (62mph) for 19km (12 miles).
However, a more efficient – and dare we say city-safe – cruising speed of 60km/h (37mph) allows for 32km (20 miles) on a charge.
For Suzuki – which already produces cars, motorbikes, and ATVs – this provides the company the “opportunities to explore and potentially add flying cars as a fourth mobility business.”
SkyDrive’s backing no doubt makes this an attractive partnership as well – the startup, which first launched in 2018, is backed by several tech firms including Panasonic, Fujitsu, and Toyota.