Japanese eVTOL aircraft developer SkyDrive now says it has no fewer than 100 corporate sponsors to support the development of its flying car design. In a June 19 statement, the company said it expects to conduct a first flight for the vehicle during the summer.
According to SkyDrive, which is part of the Cartivator Resource Management consortium, its sponsors have committed a mix of direct financial support, as well as supply components, engineering advice, and seconded staff to support the program. Among the leading companies supporting the program are Panasonic, NEC, Yazaki, Joyson Safety Systems, Mizuno, Sony, and Tokio Marine & Nichido Fire Insurance.
For example, NEC has provided SkyDrive and the Cartivator group of companies with support to develop flight control and management technologies. The group has experience in developing unmanned aircraft controlled systems and radio wave monitoring that could support the entry into service of vehicles like the one being developed by SkyDrive.
SkyDrive aims to have its flying car ready to be offered for sale from 2023 and to start mass production from 2026. It had aimed to conduct initial public flight demonstrations around the Tokyo Olympic Games this summer, but the event has been canceled due to the Covid-19 crisis.
The was established in 2018 by a group of engineers working together through the Cartivator consortium to advance electric and autonomous technology for aircraft. In September 2019, it announced that it had raised an additional $14 million in funding, taking its total to $18.5 million. Its direct financial backers include Drone Fund, Z Corporation, STRIVE III Limited Liability Partnership, ITOCHU Technology Ventures Inc., and Energy & Environment Investment Inc.