ABIKO, Japan—Japanese electronics maker NEC Corp. on Monday showed a “flying car,” a large drone-like machine with four propellers that hovered steadily for about a minute.
The test flight reaching three meters (10 feet) high was held in a gigantic cage, as a safety precaution, at an NEC facility in a Tokyo suburb. The preparations such as the repeated checks on the machine and warnings to reporters to wear helmets took up more time than the two brief demonstrations.
The Japanese government is behind flying cars, with the goal of having people zipping around in them by the 2030s.
NEC is among the more than 80 sponsor companies for Cartivator’s flying car, which also include Toyota Motor Corp. group companies and video game company Bandai Namco Holdings.
The goal is to deliver a seamless transition from driving to flight like the world of “Back to the Future,” although huge hurdles remain such as battery life, the need for regulations and safety concerns.
NEC officials said their flying car was designed for unmanned flights for deliveries but utilized the company’s technology in its other operations such as space travel and cybersecurity.
Often called EVtol, for “electric vertical takeoff and landing” aircraft, a flying car is defined as an aircraft that’s electric, or hybrid electric, with driverless capabilities, that can land and take off vertically.
All of the flying car concepts, which are like drones big enough to hold humans, promise to be better than helicopters. Helicopters are expensive to maintain, noisy to fly and require trained pilots. Flying cars also are being touted as useful for disaster relief.
Dubai has also been aggressive about pursuing flying cars. Japanese officials say Japan has a good chance of emerging as a world leader because the government and the private sector will work closely together. (AP)