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Japan's 'flying car' gets off the ground, with a rider aboard

43 Comments
By YURI KAGEYAMA

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43 Comments
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Looking at this thing reminds me of a couple of phrases:

What could possible go wrong?

"Oi, hold my beer and watch this!"
8 ( +13 / -5 )

Peter Neil: Don’t forget “How hard could it be?”

6 ( +8 / -2 )

Bad drivers just got much worse.

7 ( +8 / -1 )

Eight exposed spinning propellors. What could possibly go wrong?

7 ( +10 / -3 )

“If they cost $10 million, no one is going to buy them. If they fly for 5 minutes, no one is going to buy them. If they fall out of the sky every so often, no one is going to buy them,”

And if they require a pilot's license, which I hope they do, no one will buy them.

9 ( +9 / -0 )

I just looked up a video of this flight demo.

As expected, it seems pretty loud. Would probably be even louder with an extra passenger, or more fuel and/or bigger battery. Whizzing drones in parks are bad enough, but now try imagining a world where rich kids zip are "zipping around the sky" and filling every crevice for a kilometer in every direction with this annoying racket.

Video here: https://news.sky.com/video/pilot-tests-flying-car-in-japan-12058672

6 ( +7 / -1 )

How can people live with so much negativity? Must be a sad life. I am glad there are people that, instead of saying "it will never work", actually ask "how can we overcome the problems and make it work?"

If everybody thought like the comments above, we wouldn't have air travel. We'd probably have to come to Japan by rattan raft.

5 ( +12 / -7 )

Canadian version has 8 motors https://newatlas.com/blackfly-vtol-aircraft/55445/ which is better for redundancy. Can't wait to see the monthly insurance rates for the owners.

These things would work best outside urban areas. Traveling from lake to lake would be the ideal use.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

How can people live with so much negativity? Must be a sad life. I am glad there are people that, instead of saying "it will never work", actually ask "how can we overcome the problems and make it work?"

If everybody thought like the comments above, we wouldn't have air travel. We'd probably have to come to Japan by rattan raft.

I've been around for along, long time and can tell you that I've been reading about the flying cars we were supposed to be zipping around in long ago since the 1950's.

And the personal-size nuclear power plants that were supposed to buried in our backyards, and the moon colonies and the, and the, and the...

And what's wrong with rattan rafts? Don't be so negative.

6 ( +9 / -3 )

I've been around for along, long time and can tell you that I've been reading about the flying cars we were supposed to be zipping around in long ago since the 1950's.

So have I. People dreamed of flying for 100s of years before they actually achieved it. We need dreamers.

And what's wrong with rattan rafts? Don't be so negative.

Rattan rafts are fine as long as you don't mind swimming to shore.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

Great, well done. Love to see innovation like this, we would still be riding horses if half the people in these comments were responsible for progress.

'internal combustion engine, what could possibly go wrong'

7 ( +8 / -1 )

Our almost 6yo made something like this the other day out of Legos. It's sitting right here by my desk. But seriously, like anything else that flies it is going to require much more detailed maintenance than anybody gives their car. That will be a challenge to manage and enforce, and pay for.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Can you imagine hitting a bird strike in that?

5 ( +7 / -2 )

As long as they have a built-in parachute, no worries!

6 ( +6 / -0 )

Terrafugia TF-X looks like the one I need for commuting.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Flying mamacharis?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Surely a flying car is really just a mini jet plane or a mini helicopter? Therefore, I can't see these things ever becoming as common as the humble automobile. There would be too much risk allowing ordinary people to travel in these things in large numbers. However, in a country like Japan which has frequent disasters such vehicles would allow emergency response teams to travel more easily. Even when roads were flooded and bridges destroyed these vehicles could still get there quickly. Then again wasn't Sean Connery's James Bond successfully using a flying car ie. minihelicopter decades ago?

6 ( +6 / -0 )

I’d rather hang on and wait for teleporting.

8 ( +8 / -0 )

When I think, or dream, of a flying car is when I get stuck in the traffic going through George Washington Bridge to Manhattan.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Even when roads were flooded and bridges destroyed these vehicles could still get there quickly. 

Excuse my negativity, but get there quickly and what? Deliver a 10 kg bag of rice? They don't look like they'll ever be able to carry much. Helicopters do a fine job already. I'd feel so much more positive if all the smart scientists/designers focused on finding ways to make us less dependant on fossil fuel, developing renewable energy sources etc. I know there are many doing just that already, but in a world of dwindling, finite resources, this is amounts to wasting time and effort on a stupid toy.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

When I think, or dream, of a flying car is when I get stuck in the traffic going through George Washington Bridge to Manhattan.

I'm picturing these bumper to bumper in the sky above major thoroughfares. Aerial gridlock. And if you think motorcycles filtering traffic are, um, interesting (disclosure, I ride motorcycles and filter traffic at every opportunity) imagine three dimensional filtering by these things.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

If you can't think of anything practical that something could be used for then it's really just a stupid toy, or you are just a stupid person.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

The annoying media strikes again, repeating and spreading old fallacy and never learning or caring so long as the sales and clicks happen. Safe, practical flying cars have been around since the late 1940s. But stupid journalists made it about technology rather than what its really about which is regulations. To operate one you need both a pilot's and a driver's license. You are not allowed to utilize public roads for take off and landing but must use some private property in correct zones, an airport, or open water if you can land in water. You have file a flight plan to fly it. Flying car advocates have been fighting for decades to relax restrictions. There are loads of good, practical flying cars out there. Its just that few have the time, money and dedication to ensure they are within all the regulations. Even if they made this flying car so easy a 6 year old could operate it, and so safe even a six year old could not crash it or get hurt around it, it still would not be allowed to operate in a practical sense for everyday people.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

driving a giant drone quad copter....what could go wrong??

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Woah, BattleStar Galactica "Viper".

1 ( +1 / -0 )

This skydrive test is very poor.

Only the futuristic video presentation is really cool.

Get rzther a flyboard ! Franky Zapata is coming with short and mid distance flying cars very soon.

Only automatic pilot will be allowed if ever it happens. It will take decades for regulations to be adapted.

Moreover, people forget that weather will prevent to use such flying cars often.

Cars'use will remain for long.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Wow !

Its just the beginning.

The best is yet to come.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

This single person, mini helicopter is not a car or a flying car. It has no wheels and can not be driven on roads.

A flying car is a road vehicle that can also fly. Get the terminology right or please don't bother. It is as much a flying submarine as it is a flying car.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

AI, robots, flying cars no thank you!!

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Forget your Jetsons dreams, the average person will never be allowed to fly one of these. There is a reason why world wide we have air traffic control. The economic reason to own a car is rapidly diminishing for the majority of people especially in large conurbations. Even less so for something like this.

More likely to be AI controlled driverless air taxi service within major cities so yes I can see Japan being one of the early adopters given its urban density.

This at the moment is short on carrying capacity, range and safety (those unguarded props are a disaster looking to happen). Blown air is a safer option when arround people and some of the firms are going down that route, also tend to take less space.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

A flying car is a road vehicle that can also fly. Get the terminology right or please don't bother.

You might want to check the definition/s of car

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

This single person, mini helicopter is not a car or a flying car.

Thank you. I am kicking myself for not seeing it myself. The media is always BSing all over this topic so I missed that confronting the other BS. I really wish "journalists" would either take the time to get this stuff straight or just be silent. It gets old wading through this thoughtless rubbish.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

The annoying media strikes again, repeating and spreading old fallacy and never learning or caring so long as the sales and clicks happen. Safe, practical flying cars have been around since the late 1940s

Not true at all. Yes there have been numerous prototypes built over the years all of which had shortcomings that made them impractical to use. Many never flew successfully. Only one "roadable airplane" has ever made it to production, the Dutch PAL-V Liberty and that was just this year. It's a gyrocopter. It has to use an airfield and adhere to air traffic regulations in flight, which imposes its own set of limits, but after landing and shut down the blades can be folded much as is done with naval helicopters for storage on ships and the vehicle driven as a car on roads. Being a Navy helicopter pilot once it sort of appeals to me. This thing shown here hasn't flown yet outside of a cage so it's utility remains to be demonstrated. It's basically a giant RC quadcopter. Easy to write control algorithms for (control is achieved by changing the rpm of each rotor differentially so each rotor is creating different amounts of lift to maneuver the craft) but not very efficient compared to a true helicopter and relying on batteries will probably be it's major drawback, greatly limiting both range and payload. Battery electric drive doesn't have the power density of a piston or gas turbine engine with mechanical drive. The rest of your post is not even remotely informed by fact.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Meet George Jetson....

0 ( +0 / -0 )

What is the purpose of this machine? Would you want your millionaire next door to own this and is not be a certified pilot and let alone allow to fly this aircraft maybe into their driveway. How are you going to control this type of air traffic control? This makes no sense. Why are there investment firms putting money into projects like this?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

What is the purpose of this machine? Would you want your millionaire next door to own this and is not be a certified pilot and let alone allow to fly this aircraft maybe into their driveway. How are you going to control this type of air traffic control? This makes no sense. Why are there investment firms putting money into projects like this?

One of the major drawbacks of flying cars has always been the necessity of the operator being a pilot, which requires a good deal more skill and judgement than driving a car. Add to this the more detailed and thus expensive maintenance required of anything that flies (and thus might crash on innocent people below), the effects of weather (gaining and keeping current an instrument rating is not cheap and consumes much time practicing instrument flight unless you want to end up like Kobe Bryant) and the necessity of having an airfield of some sort to land and take off from. Gasoline used in cars and trucks (Mogas) is formulated differently that aviation gas (Avgas). Mogas doesn't behave like Avgas at any kind of altitude and is not certified for aviation, so any such flying car would have to operate on more expensive Avgas available only at airports. Lots and lots of little details like these add up and generally make flying cars impractical. This particular one is remote control and runs on electricity, which gets around some of the problems but adds some additional ones.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

What happens when 25% of the blades lose power? That will need to be addressed.

Does the craft slowly float to the ground, unpowered, with some sort of flight so nobody dies?

Other aircraft have a glide or auto-rotation capability to land unpowered.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Very informative @Desert Tortoise, thanks

1 ( +1 / -0 )

This thing has potential....as emergency response vehicles.

Imagine a team of medics flying ABOVE floods, landslides and getting to remote mountainous regions and administering much needed medical help. No need for large helipads. Just a small clearing the size of a car park slot.

I say NAY for commercial uses and YAY for emergency medical uses.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Imagine a team of medics flying ABOVE floods, landslides and getting to remote mountainous regions and administering much needed medical help. No need for large helipads. Just a small clearing the size of a car park slot.

What you imagine already exists. They're called search and rescue helicopters, "SAR helos" for short. If you have never done SAR this thing is much too small. Even the US Coast Guard's HH-65 is too small. It can carry one litter in a man basket but the medic practically has to straddle the victim there is so little room in the cabin. Remember there has to be a swimmer in a wet suit on the cabin and the medic has to operate the hoist. It's a very crowded cabin for SAR. Just from experience you can't go much smaller. Btw, I don't need to land anywhere to do this. I can hover over a small clearing and hoist people and equipment up and down using the rescue hoist. I've hoisted litters from the decks of ships at sea with no landing facilities at all, or ships that had landing areas too small for the helo I was flying. Don't need this thing for that kind of work and it probably can't lift enough weight anyway.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

So basically its a drone. No wheels means not a car.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

So basically its a drone. No wheels means not a car.

Bingo! Just a scaled up RC quadcopter.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Like the majority of posters on this thread, I am absolutely disgusted that they would release a video of a product that isn't already perfect with every kink worked out, and ready for commercial production.

The people who have not worked out every kink and had this flying car already ready for commercial production should be ashamed of themselves. Seppuku is the only honorable avenue left to them.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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