I know plenty of news outlets are calling this thing a flying car, but let’s be clear here: this isn’t a flying car. It’s a drone you and some of your pals can ride in. It’s not designed to drive on the roads like a car, and then transform into an air vehicle, which makes sense, because it’s not a flying car. The demo happened in Abiko, Japan, in a cage at NEC’s test facility, where it hovered about 10 feet above the ground for about a minute.
The use of the cage and the tether on the drone makes the demo feel more like NEC captured some exotic and dangerous animal and is displaying it to the public, who can thrill to its mighty buzz:
The drone runs on batteries, and is remarkably light, weighing only 331 pounds. Japan’s government is supportive of flying car development, and Japanese venture capitalists have started a special fund, called the Drone Fund, to support such projects.
Kouji Okada, NEC’s head of the project, described the situation in Japan like this:
“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.”
Even if the vehicles aren’t strictly flying cars, Japan, with its very densely-built cities and high populations crammed into limited areas, could be an ideal place for sub-helicopter-sized drone aerial vehicles.
This demonstration by NEC, former makers of the TurboGraphx-16 video game console, is one of the first of its kind by a major Japanese corporation, though NEC has no plans to build the drone, choosing instead to license the technology to Cartivator, a Japanese company developing flying cars and drones.
I’m sure we’re two years away from seeing these all over Japan, just like we’re always and forever two years away from seeing flying cars like these.