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...

  • Slyons My guess is they keep the 2.0 liter they have now with minor tweaks, and shoehorn in the 48V mild hybrid system that just debuted in the CX-90. Should allow for all the regular fun of wringing out the 4 cyl and bump the fuel mileage up at least a couple points. I don't think we'll see a major evolution of the drivetrain until the next next model (NF?).
  • 28-Cars-Later " as long as internal-combustion engines exist?"So... forever until society collapses, rebuilds, and then the Hunger Games begin?
  • Jeff S It would be a neat project but the 6k should include the parts car.
  • Kcflyer Why oh why does every manufacturer slop the roof so much on vehicles that are supposed to be utilitarian? Especially a three row people mover. Let the rear roof square off like an old volvo wagon for cripes sake! And get off my lawn. And don't give me the mpg noise. I'd happily give back a couple mpg for some utility in a "utility" vehicle.
  • Varezhka KISS, just like Miata always has. No exotic powertrain options, a simple 2L NA with MT with similar power output as Mazda3 and CX-30 would best match the car; as much as I have always dreamed of a rotary powered RX-5.That said, the Miata that I actually liked and driven the most was NC. It was just practical enough and comfortable enough over long distance that I can actually use it as my DD/road trip vehicle without losing the lightweight nimble feeling. ND as nice as it is lost some of that IMHO.The only other thing I'd like would be the new MazdaConnect which is so much nicer, and a less angry face.