Startup SkyDrive Successfully Tests Flying Car That Is Absolutely Not A Flying Car

Illustration for article titled Startup SkyDrive Successfully Tests Flying Car That Is Absolutely Not A Flying Car
Photo: SKYDRIVE

Why does this keep happening? Every year we get at least one breathless article about a new flying car that’s just completed some milestone and will be swarming in the skies in two years. But they won’t. Because they never do. Even worse, we’re still seeing these articles about flying cars that are absolutely in no way flying cars. Like this not-flying car, from SkyDrive, that just completed a successful test with a driver of not being a flying car.

Advertisement
Illustration for article titled Startup SkyDrive Successfully Tests Flying Car That Is Absolutely Not A Flying Car
Screenshot: YouTube

SkyDrive did a successful test of its SD-03 “flying car,” which, you may cleverly note, has no wheels and is in no way capable of driving on a road like a car. It flies, yes, but can’t drive, so no, it’s not a “flying car,” it’s a small (the world’s smallest, it seems) electric vertical take off and landing (VTOL) aircraft.

Advertisement
Illustration for article titled Startup SkyDrive Successfully Tests Flying Car That Is Absolutely Not A Flying Car
Photo: SkyDrive

It’s basically a big drone you can sit in:

Now, yes, this is very cool, and the technology behind it is impressive. Here’s what the press release tells us:

It measures a compact two meters high by four meters wide and four meters long and requires only as much space on the ground as two parked cars. The powertrain consists of electric motors that drive rotors deployed in four locations, with each location housing two rotors that individually rotate in opposite directions, each driven by its own motor. The use of eight motors is a means of ensuring safety in emergency situations during flight and as such aims to address compliance standards and allay potential regulatory concerns.

Okay, impressive, sure, though there’s no information about the range of the thing. While SkyDrive likes to talk about the design in drippy, grand terms:

SkyDrive’s flying car has been designed to be a coupe embodying dreams and exuding charisma, such that it will be welcomed into people’s lives and used naturally. The main exterior color of the SD-03 is pearl white, which was chosen to represent white birds and the floating clouds in the sky of users’ future. The company hopes that its aircraft will become people’s partner in the sky rather than merely a commodity and it will continue working to design a safe sky for the future as a partner in the sky.

Advertisement

...it does kind of gloss over a pretty big aspect of the design:

With the striking SkyDrive emblem fitted on the front, the SD-03’s visual design expresses the dynamism of a pair of propellers rising up into the sky of the future, working in tandem.

Advertisement

Yeah, those dynamism-expressing, open propellers are big enough that even if this thing is only two parked cars wide, there’s no way you’re going to be able to just land this thing in a parking lot full of people, any of whom could be instantly Cuisinarted by an errant step into one of those eight swirling blades.

Illustration for article titled Startup SkyDrive Successfully Tests Flying Car That Is Absolutely Not A Flying Car
Photo: SkyDrive
Advertisement

Sure, it’s cool that a drone big enough to carry a person can be built and works, but who’s this going to be for? Air taxi services? Private ownership? I mean, maybe but this still requires a bunch of training and skill and infrastructure that is wildly different from car-driving skills and infrastructure.

It’s a new, cool kind of helicopter, not a car you can get in and drive and then decide to fly.

Advertisement

SkyDrive says the SD-03 will be available by 2023, which fits the usual flying car bullshit of being perpetually about two years away, forever and always.

Maybe flying cars will one day happen. But when they do, I don’t think they’ll really be anything like this, which is fine, because, again, this is not a flying car.

Advertisement

Well, maybe someone will prove me wrong with a picture of their Toyota Corolla with skids instead of wheels that they scrape sparkily to work every day, but until then, I’m standing by my position here.

Senior Editor, Jalopnik • Running: 1973 VW Beetle, 2006 Scion xB, 1990 Nissan Pao, 1991 Yugo GV Plus, 2020 Changli EV • Not-so-running: 1973 Reliant Scimitar, 1977 Dodge Tioga RV (also, buy my book!)

Share This Story

Get our newsletter

DISCUSSION

4130blue
IDriveEveryDay

The biggest flaw of this base design hasn’t changed since the in-depth look into VTOL in the 50s.... exposed rotors and their potential of meeting a human carcass.

The military experimented with many variations of VTOL. one of the most famous was basically a standing area with some grips and controls above a motor and dual rotors (the Hiller Flying Platform) .

The biggest issue is that in an emergency there is zero chance of the occupant escaping the rig without being severely injured or killed by the rotors. (yea, it’s hard to time the falling between giant spinning blades juuuuuuust right)

Not much has changed in terms of design since then. basically what we are seeing is a wild west of “what can we throw drone motors on” ideas. None of which offer any safety or performance enhancements over the 1950s mock-ups. 

The other fatal flaw here is that until autonomous vehicle technology becomes 99% flawless, a flying car will never be approved as a replacement for the daily driven land based vehicle. People can not be trusted to operate a Civic without fatalities, road rage, drunken driving incidents, gratuitous speeding , and this is all on a road, on the ground, with friction... about 11 inches from the surface of the earth. Can you imagine that same statistical number now hurtling down broadway in NYC 100 feet in the air..... no curbs, no jersey barriers... just a bunch of spinning ginsu blades and glass windows everywhere......