Published on September 25th, 2021 | by Amirul Mukminin0
Japan’s SkyDrive To Launch Air Mobility Service In 2025
The startup company is working with the authorities of Osaka to promote the industry
While Malaysia’s flying car dream seems to have died along with the previous government, Japan looks set to offer an air mobility service in four year’s time through a Tokyo-based company called SkyDrive that was founded in 2018.
In its effort to push the practical utilisation of its flying cars and promote the industry, the company has recently put pen to paper on an agreement with the Osaka Prefecture and the City of Osaka.
Speaking at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan held last week, company CEO Tomohiro Fukuzawa said that his company aims to use the 2025 Osaka World Expo to launch its mobility service and carry out demonstrations by ferrying visitors to the venue of the exposition.
Fukuzawa, who is a former Toyota Motor engineer, said that building social acceptance and developing a startup ecosystem are also possible under the agreement. He added that the biggest hurdle in the flying car industry is safety and gaining public trust. To that end, SkyDrive is working closely with Japan’s civil aviation authority to test each component in its flying car and conduct flight tests to obtain certification.
The flying car in question, which is technically known as electric vertical takeoff and landing aircraft (eVTOL), is equipped with eight rotors (two on each corner), has one seat and is twice as big as a normal car. Thanks to its ability to take off and land vertically, the aircraft reportedly does not need large-scale takeoff and landing facilities.
Though still in its prototype stage, the aircraft had completed its first public manned test flight in August last year. The company said it has secured $48 million (RM201 million) in funding to develop a two-seater model, which could be introduced by 2025. This is far bigger than the RM1 million funding allocated for the R&D of our flying car.
This is not the first time SkyDrive is working with the Osaka authorities to push the commercialisation of flying cars. Late last year, the startup company became a key member of a 40-member roundtable set up by the prefectural government to discuss on air mobility revolution.
On top of that, the company is also working with five big companies, including construction group Obayashi Corporation and Kansai Electric Power, on an air taxi business feasibility survey, the findings of which will be presented in the coming months.
For more information on the agreement, check out the following press release:
SkyDrive Inc. (headquartered in Shinjuku Ward, Tokyo; Tomohiro FUKUZAWA, CEO) is proud to announce that it has signed a partnership agreement with the Osaka Prefectural Government (Governor: Hirofumi YOSHIMURA) and the Osaka City Government (Mayor: Ichiro MATSUI) for the practical application of its flying cars1 in Osaka. Together we will promote the development of science and technology, the strengthening of disaster management and response capabilities, the creation of innovation, the revitalization of the region, and the generation of momentum toward World Expo 2025 Osaka Kansai Japan2. SkyDrive is a world-leading developer of urban air mobility solutions employing flying cars and cargo drones.
Partnership Agreement on Realization of Flying Cars
Date of Conclusion: September 14, 2021
Objectives of the Partnership
Through the development and practical application of flying cars, we will seek to advance science and technology, strengthen disaster management and response capabilities, develop innovation, revitalize local communities, and drive momentum toward Expo 2025 Osaka Kansai, Japan.
Details of the Partnership
- Demonstration tests to promote the introduction of flying cars in society and commercialization
i. Conducting demonstration tests
・Demonstration tests will be conducted in Osaka Prefecture in order to identify issues that need to be addressed for the practical application of flying cars in society and for commercializing the flying car business.
ii. Sharing verification results
・Test results, including insights and related information obtained in the demonstrations, will be shared at the Osaka Roundtable for Social Implementation of the Air Mobility Revolution3 (the Roundtable), except for confidential information.
- Establishment of an environment to improve social acceptance of flying cars
i. Sending out information
・Send out information about demonstration tests and other events.
・Provide information locally and beyond Osaka, including overseas, using a website and social networks.
ii. Conducting seminars and events
・Hold various events such as seminars, workshops, presentations, and awareness-raising lectures for students.
iii. Preparing the business environment
・Seek to establish a favorable environment for promoting the business of flying cars by sharing knowledge and insights widely among the concerned parties at the Roundtable and via other opportunities.
- Invigoration of regional startup ecosystems in Osaka
i. Working with SMBs and startups operating in Osaka Prefecture and providing them with opportunities for open innovatio
・Provide matching opportunities by hosting business talks, exchange meetings, pitch events, and the like.
ii. Providing occasions and opportunities for sharing information, experiences, and networks
・Seek to encourage businesses, startups, universities, and specialized institutions in and outside Osaka Prefecture to form communities, provide them with occasions, and create opportunities for exchanges.
iii. Vitalizing startup ecosystems toward Expo 2025 Osaka, Kansai, Japan
・Encourage startups to utilize the Expo as an opportunity to demonstrate or implement their products/services.
Background of the Partnership Agreement
The Osaka Prefectural Government established the Roundtable in November 2020 in order to accelerate the introduction of flying cars in the Osaka Bay area and since then the Roundtable has been playing a central role in discussions and practical action geared to achieving this objective.
As a leading developer and manufacturer of flying cars, SkyDrive aims to realize the implementation an air taxi service in the Osaka Bay area for use during Expo 2025 Osaka Kansai. We are working to prepare the ground for service providers and port operators to engage in concrete discussions regarding this plan while also gaining a deeper understanding of local residents and improving social acceptance of flying cars. As such, we have been collaborating with various stakeholders as part of our contribution to the work of the Roundtable.
As one Roundtable initiative, SkyDrive will conduct a “Feasibility Study of an Air Taxi Service Using Flying Cars” this autumn jointly with Obayashi Corporation, Kansai Electric Power Company Inc., Kintetsu Group Holdings Co., Ltd., and Tokio Marine and Nichido Fire Insurance Co., Ltd. This study is expected to clarify the levels of recognition and social acceptance of flying cars as well as verify the feasibility of air taxi services as an ongoing business in future years.4
In our new partnership with Osaka Prefecture and Osaka City we continue striving to advance recognition and social acceptance of flying cars through current and new initiatives with the shared aim of stimulating innovation, creating new industries, and growing the region’s economy while enhancing the quality and convenience of residents’ daily lives and reinforcing disaster management and response capabilities in the Osaka Bay area.