NEC Corp Tests ‘Flying Car’ In Tokyo Suburb; India To Follow

NEC Corp, leading Japanese electronics manufacturer, attracted cynosure of all eyes by testing a large drone-like  “flying car,” with four propellers that hovered steadily for about a minute.

Accordng to the company officials, the test flight during its two test flights touched around 10 feet high at NEC testing site located in the company’s plant in Abiko, a suburb of Tokyo. The flying machine, powered by battery, looked like a large drone with four propellers which can carry people.

The test happened with the support of Japanese government in its effort to transport citizens using it by 2030s. Earlier, the Japanese government conducted such tests in Fukushima, northeastern part of Japan. It is also holding such test in Mie prefecture.

NEC Unveils Flying Car Prototype in Japan, Hovers 10 Feet Above Ground for a Minute in Public Test
Photo Credit: Japan Times/ Kazuaki Nagata

The flying car is supported by four propellers and carry people. The demo happened without carrying people. The flying car is about 3.9 meters long, 3.7 meters wide and 1.3 meters tall, and weighs about 150 kilograms. According company sources, the test happened in a large 10-meter-by-20-meter cage so that the machine doesn’t fly out of control and injure anybody.

Japanese flying car startup Cartivator Chief Executive Tomohiro Fukuzawa also participated at the demonstration. Even though Cartivator’s test flight in 2017 met with crash Tomohiro Fukuzawa is hopeful that the current demonstration will make flying cars a reality.

NEC flying macine project leader Kouji Okada said Japan is a densely populated country and that means flying cars could greatly alleviate the burden on road traffic. “We are positioning ourselves as an enabler for air mobility, providing location data and building communications infrastructure for flying cars,” said Kouji Okada.

Backed by its venture capital support, Japan is expecting that its engineering capability will help growing flying car community to make the mission a reality.

According to sources, the demo is major step in NEC’s game plan to get into flying car manufacturing along with its partner Cartivator. “While NEC will give all technical support, Cartivator will mass produce the flying car starting from 2026,” said a Japanese analyst to NFAPost.

Besides NEC, Government of Japan and Cartivator, the project more than 80 sponsor companies, which include Toyota Motor Corp, its group companies and video game company Bandai Namco Holdings.

India plan

India is also catching up with its dream of coming up with flying machines of different formats for transportation. The government has authorised National Aeronautics laboratory to come up with plan first transportation aircraft. There are are also few startups who are actively working on drone project for various purposes like urban mapping, disaster management, medical and health infrastructure, and agriculture.

Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has come up with a drone policy which nurtures India ‘s ambition to become a hub of these flying machines research and development with the support of academia and startup. India has come up with drone regulations for tech evolution in the space. It also envisions the functioning of a Digital Sky platform to track drones in real time. It is more advanced compared with the United States’ UTM (unmanned aircraft traffic management system).

Speaking to NFAPost, Omnipresent Robot Tech Founder Akash Sinha said India should have a game plan to get along with the technological innovation happening on new mode of mobility using flying machine. “It is really cost intensive and we need government participation. We have a bubbling ecosystem in the aerospace and we are behind to none as the availability of human our talent is a differential we can bring in,” he said.

Telengana Government is going ahead with more proactive engagement in space as they its Emerging Technology Department has approached DGCA to make the new drone policy much more conducive for innovation in the country. One of another bottleneck India is facing is that the current regulation is not allowing foreign nationals to fly drones in India. “As per the rule, if a foreign national wants to use drone they will have to lease the drone to an Indian entity who in turn will have to obtain a UIN and Unmanned Aircraft Operator Permit from the DGCA. It is high time that we should change the policy hurdles to compete globally,” said an analyst.

Indian policy makers will have to come up with more aggressive plans to take our new flying mobility technology initiatives more investor friendly and globally competitive. Sources also said the government is planning to come up with drone regulations 2.0 late in 2019.As part of this it has invited the Directorate General of Civil Aviation, Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), Airport Authorities of India (AAI), National Security Guard, Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) and other industry bodies and private players to come up with new measures.

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