Flying cars could be a step closer to taking off, with a Japanese electronics maker trialling a large drone-like machine with four propellers that hovered steadily for about a minute.
The test flight by NEC Corp reached three metres in altitude and was held in a gigantic cage as a safety precaution at the company’s facility in Tokyo on Monday (local time).
The Japanese government is behind so-called flying cars, with the goal of having people using them by the 2030s.
Among the government-backed endeavours is a huge test course for flying cars, built in an area devastated by the 2011 tsunami, quake and nuclear disasters in Fukushima, in north-eastern Japan.
Mie, a prefecture in central Japan that is frequently used as a resort area by Hollywood celebrities, also hopes to use flying cars to connect its various islands.
Similar projects are popping up around the world, such as Uber Air.
The global ridesharing giant’s aerial taxi service pilot, which will run in Melbourne as well as the US cities of Dallas and Los Angeles, aims to connect transport hubs like airports to central city sites.
The rideshare company said test flights were due to start from 2020 and plans were for commercial operations to begin from 2023.
A flying car by Japanese start-up Cartivator crashed quickly in a 2017 demonstration.
Cartivator chief executive Tomohiro Fukuzawa, who was at Monday’s demonstration, said their machines had also been flying longer lately.
NEC is among the more than 80 sponsor companies for Cartivator’s flying car.
The goal is to deliver a seamless transition from driving to flight, although huge hurdles remain such as battery life, the need for regulations and safety concerns.
NEC officials said its machine was designed for unmanned flights for deliveries, but that it would utilise the technology in its other operations, such as space travel and cybersecurity.