Japan successfully tests flying car
The futuristic world depicted in Back To The Future could be closer than we thought.
A flying car has been tested in Japan and was able to hover steadily for about a minute using its four propellers.
Electronics firm NEC unveiled the technology at a facility in the city of Abiko, situated around 22 miles from Tokyo.
The Japanese government aims to have people using flying cars by the 2030s and has backed the construction of a huge test course in an area devastated by the 2011 tsunami and nuclear disasters in Fukushima.
There are also hopes to use flying cars to connect islands in the Mie resort area, which is frequented by Hollywood celebrities.
Japan wants to become a world leader in the sector but could find itself competing with Dubai, which is also aggressively pursuing the technology.
However, there are still huge hurdles to overcome before flying cars can become commonplace – including battery life, the need for regulations and safety concerns.
Flying cars, often called EVtol – electric vertical take-off and landing aircraft – are defined as aircraft which are electric, or hybrid electric, with driverless capabilities and the ability to take off and land vertically.
The new vehicles aim to be better than helicopters, which are expensive to maintain, noisy to fly and require trained pilots.
A flying car by Japanese startup Cartivator proved unsuccessful after it crashed during a demonstration in 2017, but company bosses say they have since developed their technology so their machines can last longer.
NEC is one of more than 80 companies sponsoring Cartivator’s flying car.
Officials say the machine is designed for unmanned flights for deliveries, but flying cars could also be used in disaster relief operations.
Ride-hailing app Uber is also launching its own version of the technology called Uber Air in the US and plans to start demonstrator flights in 2020 and commercial operations in 2023.