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Toyota working on flying car… for real

Tired of hearing about fully self-driving cars, forever promised but never quite made real? You ain’t seen nothin’ yet. Toyota has filed a patent request for a project it is working on for a… flying car.

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang for the 21st century, you might say. The dream of a flying car has been around for more than a century. It hasn’t happened, yet. But in the next 50 years, it could well become reality.

Patent filing
Last year, Toyota publicly stated that it wanted to explore the concept and make a flying car happen. We’ve now learned that the Japanese automaker has filed a patent request with drawings for such a machine.

This potential car has a double function, being designed to work on the ground and in the air. The documents show designs for the car’s wheels and on the transition method that would allow it to go from one system of propulsion to another.

The futuristic diagrams show a “normal” car consisting of four arms with wheels at the end of them. When the car is ready to lift off, the arms extend outwards and the wheels start to turn like rotors.

The principle of the rotors is the same as those on helicopters, and theoretically anyways they would allow the vehicle to lift off the ground. As for the power needed to make this work, Toyota says in its filing that a central source would feed electric motors, connected in turn to each of the rotors. And that source? It could take the form of a battery pack, turbine or hydrogen fuel cell, or something else entirely.

Do we need to point out that this project is in its very earliest embryonic stage?

Still, it’s noteworthy that Toyota gave its approval to this project (in May 2017), and that it has assigned a 30-member team to developing it.

The flying car project even has a name: SkyDrive. A full-size model was shown to the company’s brain-trust in summer 2017. We don’t know if any tests have been carried out as of yet, but we do know the Toyota team aims to carry out the first, automated, test flights later on this year.

Last tidbit: the 2020 Olympic Games are taking place in Tokyo in 2020. It would be quite a coup for Toyota to bring its flying car to the opening ceremonies of that global-scale event…

Just sayin’.