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The Japanese Flying Car Successfully Flew, but I want to pour cold water on it

Friends, have you experienced the despair of traffic jams?

In my last job, it took me more than 2 hours to drive to and from get off work, and I didn’t get home until 8:30 in the evening. After having a quick meal, it was almost 9 o’clock. After doing something else, I could wash and sleep.

When there is no traffic jam, it only takes 24 minutes to drive to the company. To relieve my depressed mood, I played Joey Yung’s song more than once in a loop during traffic jams: Believe me l can fly, I am singing in the sky…

Hope and hope, just a few days ago, the manned test flight of the flying car developed by Japan SkyDrive was successful, and I left tears of excitement.

Future of Flying Car

Future of flying car

When I saw the flying car developed by the Japanese company SkyDrive, it was difficult to associate it with a car running on the ground.

It is 2.9 meters long and 1.3 meters wide. Viewed from the side, it has a shark-like streamlined fuselage. The open cab at the top resembles a shark’s fin, and there are two landing gears at the bottom

Viewed from the front, the front face of the flying car is composed of four slightly curved sections, which are a bit aggressive and a little bit affectionate. The four black propellers are evenly distributed around the fuselage through white horizontal bars. These angles are almost invisible to the naked eye.

Although it is an aircraft, the space occupied by a flying car is not large, only the size of two ordinary cars.

On the whole, the flying car is like a future flying machine. Takumi Yamamoto, the project’s design director, said that the design inspiration comes from the word “Progressive”.

10m Above the ground level flexible swivel in the air

flying car

The test driver raised the flying car to an altitude of up to 10 meters, and the flying time lasted about 4 minutes.

Unlike large passenger planes, flying cars can take off and land vertically, do not require long runways and telescopic landing gear, and are relatively stable in lifting and landing.

With the help of “Electric Vertical Take-Off and Landing (eVTOL)” technology, flying cars can rotate flexibly in the air and move horizontally and straight. “Reversing into storage” is no longer a big problem.

It is reported that the control difficulty of a flying car is much lower than that of an airplane. Similar to an ordinary car, a considerable part of the control is done automatically by the flying car system.

This year, Japan’s SkyDrive company has made a breakthrough in research and development and has obtained new financing with total financing of 3.9 billion yen. It plans to commercialize flying cars in 2023.

Flying cars are not new

1) Autoplane

As early as 1917, G. Curtis showed the world a new type of vehicle, named Auto plane.

This flying car has a pair of 12.2m aluminum three-layer wings. The four-blade screw at the rear of the car’s engine drives the propeller. Due to the technological level at the time, the Auto plane can only do short-distance flying jumps.

2) Waterman Aerobile

Waterman Aerobile

In 1937, the waterman Aerobile, the world’s first flying car that successfully took off, came out, but at that time the aircraft was the focus of attention, so the project was difficult to continue.

3) Fitted flying car

Fitted flying car

About ten years later, in 1946, industrial designer Henry Dreyfuss designed a combined flying car. When it needs to take off, the car and the huge wing can be combined directly.

It was not until 1986 that the flying car invented by the American Taylor obtained the government’s flying license, marking the official acceptance of the flying car by the market. However, because the flying car invented by Taylor takes up too much road space, the wings are also easy to sweep obstacles. It has not been used for civilian use.

Before the 21st century, the significance of flying cars lies in exploring cutting-edge technologies, and it is difficult to find urgent application needs in reality.

In the 21st century, traffic jams have become more and more obvious, which has seriously affected the efficiency of traffic. Flying car projects have once again entered the public’s sight. Many cars or airlines have acquired related companies to deploy flying car projects

For example, Geely Automobile acquired Terrafugia, a flying car company, and developed a flying car with foldable wings, equipped with a gasoline engine and lithium-ion phosphate batteries, with a range of 640 kilometers in the air and a top speed of 160 kilometers per hour., Use electric drive when changing to car mode.

Flying Cars Developed by Boeing


In July 2018, Boeing acquired the aerospace technology company Aurora Flight Sciences, announced the restart of the flying car plan, and established the Boeing NeXt division.

The flying car developed by Intel

The flying car developed by Intel

At the same time, Internet companies have also begun to compete. Intel released a flying car at the 2018 CES show, equipped with 18 rotor devices, which looked like a round pie from the sky.

Kitty Hawk Invested by Google

Kitty Hawk Invested by Google

The most representative one is the Kitty Hawk (Little Eagle) project invested by Google founder Larry Page. The founder is Sebastian Thrun, the initiator of Google’s unmanned car project.

According to a former Kitty Hawk engineer, due to too frequent technical failures, flying cars have to be repaired every few hours, and even caused a fire at Google due to battery fires, so Kitty Hawk had to refund the personal booking deposit. Selling products to individuals has changed from “personal mounts” to “urban short-distance peer-to-peer shared aircraft.”

Does the car go to heaven? Not so easy

japanese flying car

Judging from the sinking of the Kitty Hawk project, there are still many problems that need to be solved if the car is to go to the sky.

Technically speaking, there is a big problem first, the battery.

According to the current battery technology, the flying car developed by Japan’s SkyDrive can only last for 5-10 minutes on full power. This is why the test flight only took about 4 minutes. If fuel is used as power, the cost will become very high.,

In terms of practicality, the flying height of a flying car is currently not as high as that of an airplane, which puts it under a lot of restrictions in large cities with tall buildings.  It can only “float” the car on the road, expecting to fly directly over the building to the destination. The land is still unrealistic. As a result, the experience improvement of “speeding jam on the road” and “traffic jam on the road” is not much improved. It may also bring many new traffic problems.

Even Sebastian Thrun, the founder of the Kitty Hawk project, said in an interview:

“We don’t know (where flying cars can find parking lots).” It can be seen that in addition to the technical difficulties of flying cars, there are many social rules and infrastructures to be improved.

If flying cars can fly at high altitudes in the future, privacy, airspace, and noise issues will become acute again. I believe that most people do not want to have aircrafts roaring around their heads all day long, and they may be watched by drivers from time to time. At a glance.

From a safety perspective, once an accident occurs, flying cars will cause much greater damage than ordinary cars, and it is easier to “injure the innocent” when they fall. If dangerous elements turn flying cars into an offensive weapon, prevent and It is much more difficult to intercept, which is why many countries are very cautious about opening airspace below 1,000 meters. After all, even micro drones are enough to worry about major airports.

Tesla CEO Musk once said publicly:

“If the flying cars of the future are as common as today’s cars, people will not always be careful to maintain their aircraft until a loose hub cap falls from the sky and kills some unlucky one. Passersby… If there are 10,000 flying cars overhead, then (the noise) is as terrible as a hurricane.”

What is the future of flying cars?

The discussion about whether flying cars have a future continues.

Sebastian Thrun, the founder of the Kitty Hawk project, is firmly optimistic about flying cars: “(No traffic jams) This is the advantage of the sky. We can plan virtual highways in the sky and stack them vertically so that there is no need for them. Troubled by traffic jams.”

Tesla CEO Musk believes that flying cars pose a huge safety hazard, and their Loop and Hyperloop underground high-speed tunnel traffic systems are more reliable and can solve the traffic congestion problem.

In my opinion, the flying car is in the wrong direction and is destined to only become a niche product in the subdivision field.

Before the invention of the car, people only wanted a faster horse. This example shows that people’s illusions about transportation are often limited by their thinking and cognition.

At present, most of the flying cars made by companies seem to have a sense of “nondescript”. The flying car is still an airplane in essence, but a civilian miniature airplane-it needs to rely on wheels before taking off and the wings to fly. After landing, it depends on the wheels. The difference lies in the range of movement of the aircraft after landing.

To create an ultra-modern appearance for a flying car is like coating a horse with gold powder, styling it with a cool saddle, and telling people that this horse is an innovative hybrid breed.

The birth of a revolutionary tool must meet two criteria: essence and subversion.

When people driving a carriage say they want a faster horse, the inventor can see the essence. What people express is the desire to break the ceiling of transportation efficiency. If you continue to make a fuss about horse breeding, Unachievable.

On the other hand, when most people see this new thing, they feel that the inventor is “crazy” and “unrealistic”. After the experience, they feel “really scented”, feeling that their thinking has been subverted, and a cognitive explosion is like From horses to cars are completely overthrown, and flying cars are more like a combination of cars and airplanes. If you still follow the existing “rules of the game” to “play”, many new problems will arise. For example, do we use aviation? Related regulations or use automobile traffic regulations to manage it?

Back to the essence, when we say that traffic jams are painful, do we want a flying car? This is worth pondering.

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