The Future of Advanced Air Mobility

SkyDrive's Personal eVTOL Vehicle Makes International Debut

Japan’s SkyDrive gave an international debut to its SD-03 personal eVTOL aircraft at this week’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas. The company expects the single-seat SD-05 production model to be approved to enter service in Japan in 2025, having submitted a type certification application to the country’s Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport, and Tourism in late October 2021.

The full-scale SD-03 model has been involved in flight testing since 2020, but the appearance at the CES event marked the first time it has been publicly displayed outside Japan. This version is limited to flights of up to just 10 minutes and speeds of around 30 mph. 

In August 2021, SkyDrive raised ¥3.9 billion ($31 million) in a Series B funding round to support its development of urban air mobility technology, including flying cars and cargo drones. The start-up, which was founded in 2018 and now has cargo drones with payloads in excess of 30 kg (66 pounds) working at industrial sites, has now raised more than $50 million.

The Japan Civil Aviation Bureau is evaluating the SD-05 prototype for type certification purposes. The production version is designated as the SD-XX is expected to be ready to start during the World Expo 2025 event to be held in the Japanese city of Osaka.

“The SD-03 model is the culmination of our expertise in drone technologies and aerodynamic engineering,” said SkyDrive chief operating officer Takehiro Sato. He added that the company expects the eVTOL vehicles to be able to operate from existing parking lots and rooftop helipads in urban areas.

During a January 4 press conference in Tokyo, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida committed his administration to support efforts to bring eVTOL vehicles to market. "To implement flying cars ahead of the rest of the world in time for the Osaka-Kansai Expo scheduled to be held in 2025, we will not only work with the relevant ministries and agencies, such as the Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry and the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport, and Tourism, but also with the private sector, experts, and local governments,” he declared. “Together, we will develop the necessary systems, such as safety standards for aircraft and operation management, and develop related technologies."