Everyone wants a flying car, or at least they think they want one. It seems like a cool idea until you remember how much trouble the average person has keeping a car between the lines on the road. Regardless, companies are moving ahead with the technology going so far as to launch test flights.
There are startups like AeroMobil that are working on the idea and have prototypes, but traditional car companies haven’t stepped up to make their own flying cars. Toyota, however, has partnered with startup Cartivator Resource Management to develop one and expect it to be ready by 2020.
A quick look at the calendar will tell you this is only three years away, which seems like a rather fast turnaround, but engineers believe the test model will help them build the real deal. Their goal is to have it ready to fly up and light the torch at the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan.
Toyota invested roughly $386,000 in Cartivator to work on this Sky Drive technology. What they have so far is a test model that looks more like a giant drone than a car or a plane. This strange prototype recently took a test flight.
Engineers took to the air with a vehicle made from an aluminum frame and eight propellers. Calling it a vehicle is a little much at this point, since there is no spot for a person or cargo of any kind. It’s really more of a frame and nothing else. Also, it only barely managed to get up to eye level before crashing after a few seconds of flight.
The bottom of the drone-car-frame was protected by basketballs designed to act like bumpers, but there wasn’t much else to keep the unit from being damaged each time it fell. The team gave it a couple of tries, but the impacts with the ground eventually broke a cover that then damaged a propeller and ended the test.
Despite this rocky start, Cartivator plans to deliver a vehicle that transitions from highway to skyway as easily as what we saw in Back to the Future. Although it’s only in early testing right now, they expect to have their first manned flight in 2019.
By the time the Olympics roll around, the awkward drone in this video could be transformed into a tiny car with a single driver onboard to light the famous torch.