July 26, 2022
Japan’s SkyDrive, which is developing flying cars and cargo drones, has announced a partnership with Toray Carbon Magic (TCM), which makes carbon fiber-reinforced plastic (CFRP) products for the automotive and aerospace industries. The partnership aims to develop a composite vehicle structure for SkyDrive’s flying cars, and are now working on material conformity testing.
With the mission of “leading the once-in-a-century mobility revolution,” SkyDrive said it is developing flying cars to realize a future that utilizes the sky for daily transportation. In 2025, the company plans to enter into service in the Osaka Bay Area using the SkyDrive Type SD-05, a two-seat vehicle for which SkyDrive is currently pursuing type certification.
The company said the most important factor in the SD-05 development is to reduce the weight of the vehicle. TCM’s design and manufacturing technologies and facilities are effective in achieving this goal, and the two companies said they are discussing prototypes of a light and strong CFRP structure for flying cars.
TCM said CFRP is a resin base material to which carbon fiber is added as a reinforcing material. In addition to high rigidity and high strength, carbon fiber also has features such as electrical conductivity, heat resistance, low thermal expansion coefficient, self-lubricity, and X-ray permeability. By taking advantage of these features, it is expected to make products lighter, larger, smaller, and more energy-efficient, and is widely used in several applications.
“We are delighted that our lightweight and aerodynamic technologies cultivated in the development of racing cars will be utilized in developing the flying car,” said Akiyoshi Oku, CEO and president of Toray Carbon Magic. “We will continue to work proactively on the development of elemental technologies required for flying the vehicle, and together with SkyDrive, we will strive to contribute to the future society.”
SkyDrive defines its “flying cars” as electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft that are electric, fully autonomous autopilot, and perform vertical takeoff and landing. The company expects to create taxi services in urban areas, provide new means of transportation for remote islands and mountainous areas, and offer emergency transport in times of disaster. Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) and the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism (MLIT) are expecting the start of business in 2023 with full-scale deployment in 2030.
“Toray Carbon Magic’s advanced carbon fiber-reinforced plastic is an essential element of our two-seater aircraft SD-05,” said Tomohiro Fukuzawa, CEO and president of SkyDrive. “Starting with this material compatibility testing, we will continue to work closely together to promote the development of a light and strong flying car airframe structure, with the aim of realizing an air mobility society.”
For more details on SkyDrive and its technologies, visit its website here.