Japan’s SkyDrive has 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. In an August 28 announcement, the company said the round was supported by 10 investors led by the Development Bank of Japan.
Also this week, SkyDrive made a first manned public flight with its SD-03 flying car. The flight took place on August 25 at the 2.5-acre Toyota Test Field, which is where the company is headquartered.
The single-seat SD-03 took off in the early evening and circled the field for around four minutes. A pilot was at the controls, but the SkyDrive team used a computer-assisted control system to ensure flight stability and safety.
Flight testing will now continue to expand the vehicle’s operational envelope as the company seeks approval under Japan’s Civil Aeronautics Act, with a view to it being ready for commercial service from 2023. By the end of 2021, it aims to have permission to conduct flights at other locations.
SkyDrive CEO Tomohiro Fukuzawa said that the company intends to work with partners to develop the market for urban air mobility in Japan and other countries. The company was founded in 2018 and has had a cargo drone on the market since May 2020.
“We have been working on the design of electric propulsion systems, flight control systems, aircraft structures, testing, manufacturing, and introducing monitoring equipment for aircraft conditions during flight testing step by step, and with a considerable sense of speed,” explained CTO Nobuo Kishi.
In addition to the Development Bank of Japan, the following nine companies invested through the Series B round: Itochu Corporation, Itochu Technology Ventures, Eneos Innovation Partners, Obayashi Corporation, Energy & Environment Investment, Strive Inc., NEC Corporation, VeriServe Corporation, and Sumitomo Mitsui Finance and Leasing Company. Several of these backers also invested in the earlier Series A funding round, along with existing shareholders Drone Fund and Z Corporation.
SkyDrive has now raised more than $50 million. In September 2019 it completed a $14 million Series A funding round.