TOKYO – When the creative team of Cartivator conceived the SkyDrive flying car project in one of its brainstorming sessions over four years ago, they never imagined that a tech giant like Toyota would agree to become one its investors.
Toyota assured them funding of 42.5 million yen ($380,000) in the next three years to develop the SkyDrive to light the Olympic flame during the 2020 Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games.
“We may not have exactly imagined this, but we were certain we can make anything happen as long as we dream big and work hard towards our goal,” Ryuntaro Mori, head of business planning of Cartivator, tells EFE.
Toyota’s investment “represents one big momentum for young engineers to dream big and to make those dreams come true,” he adds.
It will allow Cartivator “to spend more time on development, and less on worrying about the cost.”
The “voluntary community, not company” of engineers, whose fundamental principle is to weave dreams for future generations, is planning to build a manned prototype by the end of 2018.
The close to 20 engineers from sectors such as automotive, aviation and information technology, who are a part of Cartivator, are from different Japanese companies, and all work on SkyDrive outside of their regular working hours.
Among the futuristic models, which large companies including Airbus and independent ones such as Netherland’s PAL-V or Slovakia’s AeroMobil – whose hybrid car and airplane are already available for pre-order in Europe – are seeking to develop, Cartivator’s flying electric car claims to be the smallest and lightest.
The team began working on the project in September 2012, when in one of their first brainstorming sessions someone proposed developing flying cars.
The idea got the nod from the rest of the members immediately for being the “most exciting idea,” the planning head said.
Over four years later, the team is working on a single-seater flying car, 2.9 meters (9.5 feet) long, 1.3 meters (4 feet) wide and 1.1 meters (3.6 feet) high – that looks like a drone – with propellers in place of the wheels in a conventional car.
However, the Cartivator engineers, who also aim to launch a commercial model of the flying car in 2025, are aware that to enter the market it needs “to work hand in hand with regulatory agencies.”
According to Mori, however, while it’s too early to publicly discuss the details of their first commercial model, they would love “to see people from across the world benefiting from this new form of mobility.”