A Japanse company has successfully conducted the first test flight of its battery-powered "flying car".
Electronics giant NEC Corp. tested the prototype on Monday, Aug. 5, inside a cage at one of its facilities in Abiko, Japan.
Successful Test Flight
The vehicle hovered about 10 feet above the ground for a minute, before settling back to the ground.
Measuring about 3.9 meters long, 3.7 meters wide and 1.3 meters tall, and weighing about 150 kilograms, the vehicle is essentially a large drone with four propellers that can carry people, albeit the test flight involved an unmanned vehicle.
It took about a year to develop the model. During the test flight, the drone was placed in a large 10-meter-by-20-meter cage that's 2 meters tall, so it would not fly out of control and possibly cause damage or injury.
NEC's flying car, however, will be eventually set free with as the Japanese government has already granted a permit for its outdoor flight.
Japan Aiming To Be A World Leader In Flying Vehicles
The demonstration is one of the firsts by a major Japanese corporation, but Kouji Okada, a leader of the project at NEC, said the company does not plan to mass-produce the flying car. Project partner Cartivator will start the mass production of the vehicle in 2026.
The development is good news for the government of Japan, which is positioning itself to be a leader in flying cars.
The country aims to ship goods using flying cars by the year 2023 and allow people to ride in flying cars in cities by the 2030s.
Okada said that flying card could help alleviate the burdens of road traffic in densely-populated Japan.
"We are positioning ourselves as an enabler for air mobility, providing location data and building communications infrastructure for flying cars," Okada told Bloomberg.
Japan, however, may have to contend with other countries, including Dubai, Singapore, and New Zealand, and private corporations like Uber Technologies Inc., Airbus, and Larry Page's Kitty Hawk Corp.