electronics giant NEC corp could help japan become a leader in the passenger drone industry after demonstrating its ‘flying car‘ by hovering it 10 feet off the ground for a full minute. the battery-powered vehicle, which is basically an oversized drone with four large propellers, is designed to carry people inside its compact cabin. tethered with a rope, and tested in a giant mesh cage at a tokyo suburb on monday, this time round it didn’t actually have a passenger inside.


the flying car is part of a wider objective of the japanese government, which wants the country to become a leader in flying cars after missing out on advancements in technology such as electric cars and ride-hailing services, according to bloomberg. venture capitalists in the country have set up a specialized fund, known as the drone fund, which is devoted to investing in autonomous aircraft in general and flying-car businesses in particular.


video by the japan times
cover image by kiyoshi ota via bloomberg



‘japan is a densely populated country and that means flying cars could greatly alleviate the burden on road traffic,’ kouji okada, who is among the project leads at NEC corp, told bloomberg. ‘we are positioning ourselves as an enabler for air mobility, providing location data and building communications infrastructure for flying cars.’


NEC corp has spent about a year developing the battery-powered flying car alongside japanese startup cartivator, which plans to begin mass producing the vehicle in 2026. in its current state, the prototype weighs about 150 kilograms and is approximately 3.9m in length, 3.7m in width, and 1.3m in height. under japan’s infrastructure plan, deliveries made by such drones are scheduled to start by 2023 or so, with the next decade hopefully seeing such vehicles transporting people from place to place.


project info


company: NEC corp

partner: cartivator