SkyDrive Inc. has unveiled the design of its commercial model flying car — the SkyDrive SD-05. SkyDrive is planning to use the SD-05, currently in development, to launch air taxi service in the Osaka Bay area during the world exposition scheduled for 2025 in Osaka, Japan.
“This is another big step towards the realization of flying cars and sky roads,” said Takumi Yamamoto, SkyDrive design director. “Two years have passed since the announcement of the SD-03, which successfully completed its public manned flight test in August 2020, and we are very happy to be able to announce its successor, the SD-05.”
Headquartered in Toyota City, Aichi Prefecture, SkyDrive is a leading developer and manufacturer of flying cars (*1) and cargo drones in Japan.
The SD-05 is a two-seat, electric-powered compact aircraft with vertical takeoff and landing capabilities. Operated by a driver pilot, its flight stability is secured with the assistance of a computer-controlled flight system. SkyDrive is developing flying cars with an eye toward realizing a world where they are used in daily life for air mobility much as automobiles are used for daily ground transportation.
“This vehicle is not just a simple means of travelling from point A to B,” Yamamoto said. “Based on the design concept of ‘giving wings to daily travel,’ it’s also a safer and more enjoyable travel partner.”
SkyDrive is in the process of acquiring a type certificate (*2) for the SD-05 from the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism (MLIT), as the first of its kind in Japan. The company continues to work toward initiating practical use of flying cars during the World Exposition Osaka, Kansai, scheduled for 2025 in Japan. The SD-05 is designed to travel up to approx. 10 km and the maximum cruise speed is 100 km/h. However, design and specifications are subject to change and the progress of design development.
Potential applications for SD-05 are currently under consideration, including short-cut transportation through the sky, a unique access to resort facilities, and emergency medical services.
“SkyDrive will continue to design the dreams of the future with the aim of realizing sky roads,” said Yamamoto. SkyDrive is also moving to promote its business operations not only in Japan but also outside the country. In the U.S., for example, the company set up an office in September 2022, for the purpose of providing a means of “last mile” air transportation. The company has been developing the market jointly with local authorities and partner companies.
Exterior Design of SD-05
As with SkyDrive’s single-seat SD-03 manned prototype aircraft, “progressive” (pioneering and advanced) is the term used to describe the design of the SD-05, which SkyDrive believes is an appropriate descriptor for a new genre of transportation. Viewing the fuselage, or body, of the aircraft from the side, an S-shaped contour suggests a pair of propellers lifting off into the sky. Looking down on the craft from above, viewers see the shape of a pearl-white swallow, a small but agile bird able to soar to great heights.
The aerodynamically advanced airframe design is informed by studies of the streamlined shapes of birds and animals and features both horizontal and vertical tails for added stability in flight. At the top corners of the airframe, 12 motor-propeller units are positioned for flight stability. These reflect flight control technology acquired through more than 1,000 flight tests conducted during development of the airframe.
For the SD-05, specialists from SkyDrive and its partners have worked together in collaboration with JAMCO Corporation (*3), an aircraft interior maker; Toray Carbon Magic Co., Ltd. (*4), a provider of advanced Carbon Fiber Reinforcement Plastics (CFRP); and Electric Power Systems, Inc. (*5), a leading developer of battery systems that include high-power powertrains for electrified aircraft that are eligible for type certification.
With its mission to lead a once-in-a-century mobility revolution, SkyDrive is developing safer, more secure flying cars through development and repeated demonstration tests of the SD-05 commercial model, leading to a future where air transportation is part of daily life.
“We look forward to seeing everyone at the Osaka Expo in 2025,” design director Yamamoto said.
(*1) Flying cars, called generally eVTOL (electric vertical takeoff and landing) aircraft outside Japan, are characterized by electrification, a fully autonomous autopilot, and vertical takeoff and landing. A new advancement in the field of mobility, the development of flying cars is being promoted globally. In Japan, the Public-Private Council for Air Mobility Revolution was established in 2018 for that purpose. The project is expected to lead to taxi services in urban areas, new means of transportation for remote islands and mountainous areas, and emergency transport in times of disaster. A roadmap formulated by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) and the MLIT anticipates the start of business in the mid-2020s.