Japanese ‘flying car’ takes off, with a person aboard

The decades-old dream of zipping around in the sky as simply as driving on highways could be becoming less illusory.

Japan’s SkyDrive Inc, among the myriads of “flying car” projects around the world, has carried out a successful though modest test flight with one person aboard.

In a video shown to reporters on Friday, a contraption that looked like a slick motorcycle with propellers lifted 1m to 2m off the ground, and hovered in a netted area for four minutes.

“Many things have to happen,” said Sanjiv Singh, professor at the Robotics Institute at Carnegie Mellon University, who cofounded Near Earth Autonomy, near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, which is also working on an eVTOL aircraft.

“If they cost US$10 million, no one is going to buy them. If they fly for five minutes, no one is going to buy them. If they fall out of the sky every so often, no one is going to buy them,” Singh said in a telephone interview.