The Future of Advanced Air Mobility

SkyDrive Evaluates Flying Car Rotors in Wind Tunnel

SkyDrive is using a wind tunnel provided by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) to evaluate the aerodynamic characteristics of its planned family of flying cars and cargo drones. The Tokyo-based start-up announced a research and development partnership with the agency on August 10.

Initial work will focus on the performance of rotors SkyDrive is developing for its SD-03 flying car prototype. The company’s engineering team is looking to understand exactly how airflow affects the rotors in order to optimize their shape and revolution speed as part of work to maximize power utilization and achieving quiet and stable flight for the vehicle.

JAXA has the largest aerospace wind tunnel facility in Japan and this has been used to develop almost all aircraft made in the country, including fixed-wing airplanes and helicopters. SkyDrive used one of the wind tunnels to evaluate a new large rotor it intends to use for the flying car.

Almost 12 months ago, SkyDrive raised $31 million in a Series B funding round to support its development of urban air mobility technology, including flying cars and cargo drones. The August 2020 round was supported by 10 investors led by the Development Bank of Japan and took total funds raised to around $50 million

Around the same time, the company 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.

SkyDrive is seeking type certification for the vehicle under Japan’s Civil Aeronautics Act, with a view to it being ready for commercial service from 2023. The company was founded in 2018 and has had a cargo drone on the market since May 2020.

“We are certain that SkyDrive’s testing at this facility brings our flying car under development one step closer to becoming a safe and reliable aircraft,” commented the company’s chief technology officer Nobuo Kishi. “The testing was conducted on the rotor itself, but we hope to expand the scope of the cooperation to include aerodynamic design and analysis of the entire aircraft.”