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NEC’s Flying Car Completes Successful Test Flight in Japan

Flying car launched in Japan.
Map of Japan with a green pushpin stuck

“You may think of ‘Back to the Future,’” Fumiaki Ebihara, an official with the  Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, told CBS News in 2018. “Up to now, it was just a dream, but with innovations in motors and batteries, it’s time for it to become real.”

Let the records show that in early August 2019, the dream became a lot more real as Japanese electronics giant, NEC Corp., demonstrated its eVTOL.

The electric vertical takeoff and landing aircraft looks like a large drone with four propellers and can carry people. It hovered 10 feet off the ground for about a minute while tethered under a protective cage at the company’s test facility in Abiko, Japan.

To be sure, challenges remain. There’s extended battery life, safety, and regulation, to name just a few hurdles. But, NEC Corp. has already built a test facility in Fukushima. The company and the country plan to use the vehicles as soon as 2023 for deliveries of goods. Passenger transportation is expected to begin in the 2030s.

Competing with the likes of Uber, Airbus, Volocopter, Airbus, and Boeing, NEC Corp. Vice President Norihiko Ishiguro told the Associated Press, “When that time comes, we want to provide technology and services as a management base.”

Dave Clarke

Dave Clarke is a California-based writer who is fascinated by the way technology changes our lives.