Japan’s SkyDrive is Set to Make Flying Cars the New Normal

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Last month, Japan-based SkyDrive announced it had reached an agreement with the Japan Civil Aviation Bureau (JCAB) to begin the type-certification process for its two-seater flying car.

Using the Bureau’s Airworthiness Testing Manual (AIM), the SkyDrive SD-05 was almost ready to take to the skies.

“Japan’s Civil Aviation Bureau adopted our application for type certification in October 2021. Since then, we have held a series of discussions with the authorities on how to develop and design safe aircraft and the means to test them. We have now reached an agreement with JCAB to adopt AIM Part II as the basis for type certification. We are very pleased that we have come one step closer to obtaining a type certificate. From now on, we will continue to deepen our partnership with JCAB and discuss plans for obtaining a type certificate, “said Nobuo Kishi, Chief Technology Officer.

Auto Futures spoke with SkyDrive CEO Sumi Miyauchi to learn more about the company and some very interesting developments, including a recent collaboration with Suzuki.

Getting off the ground

“SkyDrive was created in July 2018 to bring about a revolution in mobility that happens once a century,” she said, shedding some light on what the company aims to achieve.

“Existing mobility such as cars, trains and planes cannot be used where there are no roads, tracks or runways. Time is wasted in daily transport due to waiting for traffic lights, traffic jams and delays.

“Our founder, Tomohiro Fukuzawa, believed that if there was air mobility that could be used on a daily basis, people would be able to move more freely and faster, with fewer restrictions and time wasted on existing infrastructure.

As early as 2020, SkyDrive lifted the curtains on its prototype, the SD-03, for the world to see.

Skydrive Sd 03 with CEO
SkyDrive SD-03 with CEO Tomohiro Fukuzawa

The SD-03 was a single-seater, all-electric multicopter vertical take-off and landing aircraft (eVTOL). Developed in Japan, this model was proof of the company’s concept, and the prototype of the aircraft completed a manned flight in a flying flight in 2020 in Toyota City.

The SD-03 uses reverse rotors to generate enough lift to carry a person while keeping the car compact. Each rotor operates with an independent motor and electrical system to ensure safe operation in the event of a catastrophic malfunction. In the event that an engine stops or one of the propellers breaks, the vehicle can still fly steadily and land in a safe place.

“We are trying to make our flying vehicle as compact and light as possible so that it can take off and land virtually anywhere in the future,” said Miyauchi, talking about how SkyDrive is trying to differentiate itself from other eVTOL players in space.

“So far, we have conducted flight tests more than 1,000 times and completed a pilot flight in 2020 in Toyota City. SkyDrive is working closely with the Japanese government and the Japan National Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) on research and development to build a flying car that is as safe as any existing aircraft.

SkyDrive plans to launch commercially in 2025 with SD-05.

Skydrive Ces 2022
SD-05 was unveiled at CES 2022

The most significant difference between the SD-03 and the newer version is that the SD-05 will have the same safety guarantee as existing aircraft and will receive a type certificate. Although the specifications for this aircraft have not yet been published, the initial plan is to open sales to operators and other companies, not to individual users.

But that’s not all. Not so long ago, SkyDrive introduced its automated cargo drone – SkyLift.

As Miyauchi explained, potential uses of SkyLift include transporting materials for use in pylon maintenance, as well as to erected construction sites on expressways.

“We are also considering scenarios for using eVTOL, such as transporting a doctor to the scene of an emergency, but we are not currently developing an aircraft specifically for this purpose,” she added.


Regulations can be a sore point for eVTOL companies around the world, but not for SkyDrive, as the Japanese government looks very cooperative.

“In Japan, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) and the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism (MLIT) have jointly established a Public-Private Conference on Future Air Mobility in 2018, bringing together public and private sector stakeholders. realization of flying vehicles “, said Miyauchi.

“Roadmap formulated by METI and MLIT and envisages the start of business in the mid-2020s and full-scale implementation. The project is expected to lead to taxi services in urban areas, new transport to remote islands and mountainous areas and emergency transport in the event of a disaster.

SkyDrive also recently announced a partnership with Japanese car giant Suzuki.

Asked what each company offers at the table, Miyauchi explained that this is still being considered.

“At SkyDrive, we hope to see synergies between Suzuki’s experience in developing and manufacturing compact cars, as SkyDrive develops and manufactures compact aircraft.

“In terms of overseas market development, we expect to create a market for flying cars in India, where congestion and transport infrastructure problems are significant. Suzuki holds a leading stake in India and we believe that working with Suzuki can accelerate market building.

So far, SkyDrive’s focus is threefold – to improve the efficiency and performance of its flying vehicle, to obtain the necessary type certificate and to increase the social acceptance of flying vehicles in general. But the last two goals are not possible unless the first is achieved. Speaking about the company’s future plans, Miyauchi said:

“We will continue to develop our flying vehicle steadily and continue with certification activities until we receive a type certificate in 2025. After its opening at the 2025 World’s Fair in Osaka, Kansai, we will increase our service locations in Japan and also so we are considering expanding abroad. ”