Whether it be from The Jetsons, Blade Runner, or Star Wars, visions of the future usually have one thing in common—flying cars. And what else can I say but, “Welcome to the future.”
Some futuristic news came out this summer: Japan is setting its sights on flying cars, and it’s enlisting multiple billion dollar companies to make it happen.
According to Bloomberg, Japan isn’t just at the forefront of developing flying cars, but is beginning to establish legislation and regulation concerning them. Japan has assembled 21 public and private companies into a conglomerate of sorts to establish these rules. They include Uber, Boeing, Airbus, Japan Airlines, ANA Holdings, Yamato Holdings, and Toyota-backed/funded startup Cartivator.
That last company, Cartivator, is especially invested in the success of this group. They hope to have its flying car project, named SkyDrive, ready for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games.
They want it to light the Olympic Flame.
To be very clear, this isn’t just a pipe dream; these companies are serious. This is at least Uber’s third foray into the efforts of flying cars. In recent years, they’ve worked with the US Army to develop an aircraft devoted to utilizing flying car technology. They’ve also invested in an “air service” program in Dallas, LA, and Dubai by 2020, NASA-assisted flying taxis in LA by 2020, and is making a flying car hub and hoping to begin taxi service in Paris by 2023.
Boeing’s president, Dennis Mullenburg, has maybe the most forward-thinking quote of everyone, saying,
I think it will happen faster than any of us will understand.
And honestly, I don’t doubt him. Technology in this day and age is developing faster than any of us could have ever imagined. Japan wants to have a fleet of flying-cars by the end of the next decade. Is that unrealistic?
Here’s a frame of reference. In 2005, five self-driving vehicles passed driving across a 150-mile course at the DARPA Grand Challenge. This was before smartphones and even custom MaqQuest routes (ask your parents). This was a monumental achievement at the time. Just 13 years later, a significant number of consumer-bought cars can achieve this task. Hell, for all the guff SpaceX has received lately, they’ve still managed to develop spaceships that can take-off and safely LAND BACK ON EARTH. If I had told you any of that five years ago, would you believe me? The technology is here.
With the insane number of technological advancements in this decade alone, flying cars no longer seem like a far-off dream, but a soon-to-be inevitability. Japanese flying cars are about to be a thing.