SkyDrive is embarking on a joint research project with the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) to study ways to estimate, evaluate, and reduce the noise produced by new eVTOL aircraft.
The Tokyo-based start-up, which is developing a three-seat eVTOL air taxi, has been using JAXA’s largest wind tunnel since 2021 to evaluate the aerodynamics and performance of its designs—particularly the rotors. According to SkyDrive, it is the first eVTOL aircraft developer to conduct tests in JAXA’s wind tunnel facility, which has been used for the development of nearly every airplane, helicopter, and spacecraft produced in Japan.
Now, SkyDrive and JAXA have signed a joint research agreement focused specifically on noise reduction in eVTOL aircraft. While SkyDrive has been conducting its own research on noise reduction to make its aircraft as quiet as possible, JAXA has been developing a type of technology that it says can pinpoint the exact locations of noise sources and the amount of noise emitted from each source.
SkyDrive plans to use JAXA’s noise-analysis technology to study the noise profile of its eVTOL rotors and find ways to make them quieter. Several factors of a rotor’s design can affect its noise profile, such as the diameter, blade count, and tip speed. As part of the research agreement, SkyDrive will also “promote research on the improvement of noise estimation technology for eVTOLs in cooperation with JAXA,” the company said in a statement.
“We will use the data acquired through the research by using JAXA’s existing noise source identification technology to take us through the major step to developing flying cars that the society needs,” said SkyDrive’s chief technology officer, Nobuo Kishi.
SkyDrive was launched in 2018 as part of Japan's Cartivator consortium to advance plans for a two-seat “flying car”—also known as a personal eVTOL aircraft—as well as a cargo-carrying variant. In June the company unveiled an updated aircraft design with three seats, which will be intended for commercial air taxi operations. The piloted aircraft will have a range of about nine miles (15 kilometers) and is intended for short trips across urban areas.
The company aims to gain airworthiness certification for the three-seat model in time to fly it at the Osaka World Expo in 2025. It expects to achieve type certification and enter service in 2026, with commercial air taxi operations launching in Japan and South Carolina.