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Toyota wants a flying car to light the cauldron at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics

An early test model of the Sky Drive flies to about eye level.
AP Photo/Koji Ueda
Well, even the Wright Brothers didn’t get it right first time.
  • Katherine Ellen Foley
By Katherine Ellen Foley

Health and science reporter

Published This article is more than 2 years old.

Toyota thinks we shouldn’t have to choose between flying and driving.

The Japanese car company has invested ¥42.5 million ($386,000) into Cartivator Resource Management, a startup of just 30 people, that hopes to develop a flying car reminiscent of the DeLorean time machine from Back to the Future. The proposed vehicle, called SkyDrive, will be able to fly 10 meters (about 33 feet) above the ground at up to 62 miles (100 km) per hour, according to the BBC. If all goes as planned, it will be used to light the torch of the 2020 Olympics held in Tokyo.

There’s a lot of work to be done between then and now. Cartivator launched its first test of an early model of SkyDrive in Japan today (June 3). So far, the machine is mostly a metal shell with eight propellors that are more suited for loudly blowing sand than actually flying. After several false starts, it rose about six feet before crash-landing on the basketballs that serve as its bumpers.

Tsubasa Nakamura, the project leader at Cartivator, didn’t seem discouraged by the day’s events. “My longtime dream was to have a personal vehicle that can fly and go many places,” he told the AP.

The group is shooting to have the flying car ready for testing with human drivers by 2019. If it succeeds, it will be relatively late to the flying-automobile party. Already, Google’s co-founder, Larry Page, has invested in Zee.Aero, maker of the Kitty Hawk Flyer, which can zip drivers over water. And Lilium, another startup, successfully tested a flying drone earlier this year.

Notably, though, neither of these have wheels. If Cartivator can pull off the SkyDrive, we might just have to eat our words:

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