Japanese electronics giant NEC and Cartivator has design, build and test VTOL air taxi concepts. Now the two companies have demonstrated a multi-seat manned multicopter, a step toward a flying car future in Japan. The Japan government is said to be planning for drone-based delivery services by 2023 and taxi drones by 2030.
The demo aircraft, which had no passengers on board, uses four props, each around 4 to 5 ft (1.2 to 1.5 m) long. It has three wheels, and a compact cabin that’s designed to eventually carry people. Tethered with a rope, and tested in a giant mesh cage for safety purposes, it was flown for about 50 seconds to a height of around 10 ft (3 m) in front of assembled media.
The test flight itself isn’t particularly notable; many other similar VTOL multicopters have been tested around the globe, and plenty of them have reached a point where they’re carrying people on short-distance flights already. The NEC machine, like most of them, looks a little wobbly and flexes an uncomfortable amount on takeoff. It’s also loud enough that you’ll need earplugs to fly any distance in it, and it has no wings to extend the range it’ll draw out of a battery.