Shenanigans: Toyota's 'Flying Car' Doesn't Fly and Isn't a Car

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky
shenanigans toyotas 8216 flying car doesnt fly and isnt a car

We need to have a candid discussion about flying cars. Automobiles and airplanes entered into the mainstream around the same time, and we’ve talked about combining them into a singular platform ever since. While nobody has successfully pulled it off, we keep acting like the technology is right around the corner. The closest we’ve gotten are the Terrafugia Transition and Pal-V One. However, both of those products make major on-road sacrifices, undergo a pre-flight metamorphosis, and require regular access to a runway. They’re still not representative of anything we’d consider a real car.

Lack of success hasn’t stopped automakers from dabbling in the field of aviation. Toyota has purchased Cartivator Resource Management in the hopes that its “flying car” expertise will yield a vehicle capable of lighting the torch at the 2020 Olympic games in Tokyo. Still, based on the firm’s progress to date, we can only imagine the attempt ending in a globally broadcast fiery disaster.

Cartivator’s current project essentially involves aluminum scaffolding attached to eight propellers. It’s an uncooperative and suicidal drone that manages to hover a few feet off the ground before immediately crashing to the pavement — and the company wants someone to pilot it above a flaming cauldron in just a few years.

Toyota has invested 42.5 million yen ($386,000) into the startup for work on its “Sky Drive,” and Cartivator hopes the investment will provide the means to move the project along. The team’s lead, Tsubasa Nakamura, told The Associated Press the company wants to provide a vehicle offering seamless transition between driving and flight, à la “Back to the Future.”

“I always loved planes and cars. And my longtime dream was to have a personal vehicle that can fly and go many places,” said Nakamura.

While the company looks to have an incredibly long way to go before Sky Drive goes anywhere, vertical takeoff would set it apart from literally every other “flying car” milling around in development hell. But it doesn’t currently have wheels, a roof, or a seat for the exceedingly brave pilot this giant quadcopter is supposed to cart around.

Even if it could be made safe, Cartivator’s ultimate goal for the project wouldn’t result in something you’d ever be able to call a car. Members of the Sky Drive team have suggested the vehicle should one day be capable of flight, with a maximum ceiling of around 30 feet.

Automakers, please stop calling these objects flying cars. Media outlets, please stop acting like this technology is anywhere near mainstream acceptance. What we have now are roadworthy aircraft and that’s likely all we’ll see for the foreseeable future. Regulators would never allow for deafeningly loud, open-prop vehicles capable of three-dimensional mobility and the autonomous technology needed to make them safe doesn’t exist.

Re-categorize them as mobility solutions, single-occupant flight systems, or whatever the hell else you want to call them. But please stop referring to them as “flying cars” because we’re calling shenanigans.

[Image: Cartivator Resource Management]

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  • MidLifeCelica MidLifeCelica on Jun 06, 2017

    Why does this thing not have auto-hover or some kind of stabilization software running? Model helicopters have it, drones have it...heck, I used to write this kind of real-time feedback-response hardware control code myself back in the dawn of of computing. If I could do it with a 6502 processor and 48K of RAM then anyone can do it. All engineers, no coders?

  • LazyJK LazyJK on Jun 10, 2017

    THIS is what $ 390k gets you? F**k off...

  • SCE to AUX I charge at home 99% of the time, on a Level 2 charger I installed myself in 2012 for my Leaf. My house is 1967, 150-Amp service, gas dryer and furnace; everything else is electric with no problems. I switched from gas HW to electric HW last year, when my 18-year-old tank finally failed.I charge at a for-pay station maybe a couple times a year.I don't travel more than an hour each way in my Ioniq 1 EV, so I don't deal much with public chargers. Despite a big electric rate increase this year, my car remains ridiculously cheap to operate.
  • ToolGuy 38:25 to 45:40 -- Let's all wait around for the stupid ugly helicopter. 😉The wheels and tires are cool, as in a) carbon fiber is a structural element not decoration and b) they have some sidewall.Also like the automatic fuel adjustment (gasoline vs. ethanol).(Anyone know why it's more powerful on E85? Huh? Huh?)
  • Ja-GTI So, seems like you have to own a house before you can own a BEV.
  • Kwik_Shift Good thing for fossil fuels to keep the EVs going.
  • Carlson Fan Meh, never cared for this car because I was never a big fan of the Gen 1 Camaro. The Gen 1 Firebird looked better inside and out and you could get it with the 400.The Gen 2 for my eyes was peak Camaro as far as styling w/those sexy split bumpers! They should have modeled the 6th Gen after that.