Toyota Bankrolls Flying Car Startup

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May 1, 2017

Toyota has joined the pursuit of the flying car.

The venerable Japanese automaker has announced plans to invest 40 million yen ($352812) to help a group called Cartivator achieve its dream of having not only a flying car in operation by 2020 but also have one of those cars light the Olympic Flame at the Summer Olympics in Tokyo. Current plans are for a manned test flight by the end of 2018.

The name of the prototype is Skydrive. The prototype, which four rotors and three wheels, is based on drone technology. It's not very big: The prototype measured 9.5 feet by 4.3 feet. Its intended hover height is 32 feet off the ground. The top speed is estimated at 62 mph.

A small team of designers and mechanics began work on Skydrive in 2014. Funding until now has been through crowdsourcing. 

The move by Toyota is the latest high-profile pursuit in the widening flying car market. Manufacturers from China, Germany, the Netherlands, and the United States are already in or are planning to enter the market for self-driven flying cars. Engineers in the United Arab Emirates are pursuing design and testing for a flying taxi.

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