Photo/IllutrationThe prototype manned flying car developed by SkyDrive Inc. (Provided by SkyDrive Inc.)

  • Photo/Illustraion
  • Photo/Illustraion

TOYOTA, Aichi Prefecture--Japan’s first manned test flights of an airborne car have started, a Tokyo-based company said.

SkyDrive Inc., founded in July 2018 by young former engineers of Toyota Motor Corp., plans to carry out a demonstration flight in summer 2020 and start sales of its flying car in 2023.

According to SkyDrive, the manned trial operations began in December at its indoor test flight facility in Toyota, the home of Toyota Motor’s headquarters. SkyDrive started unmanned outdoor tests of the vehicle in December 2018.

The one-seater, 1.6-meter-tall prototype model measures 3.6 meters by 3.6 meters. A pair of propellers are installed at each corner of the body.

Details of the driver-mounted flight tests are kept confidential, but the company said experiments will continue to ensure safety.

Flying cars are also being developed by leading European aircraft maker Airbus, major American ride-hailing app provider Uber Technologies and many other firms.

The flying vehicles are expected to eventually ease traffic congestion and rescue people in emergencies. But technological developments, safety standards, traffic rules as well as operation control systems to prevent collisions are needed before the vehicles can be commercialized.