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Japan Looking to ‘Flying Cars’ as Next Level of Autonomous Transportation


September 22, 2018

TOKYO, JAPAN – September 18, 2018 (macon.com) An online article at macon.com discusses Japan’s latest efforts at building “flying cars,” which the country hopes will become the next phase of mainstream autonomous transportation.*

With drones and self-driving cars both picking up major speed across the world, Japan’s government has started investing in creating “electrical vertical takeoff and landing” aircraft (EVtol). While the vehicles are referred to as “flying cars,” the most recent prototypes look less like traditional cars and more like large drones. Japan sees EVtol aircraft as the cheaper, quieter alternative to helicopter travel and the faster, more convenient alternative to self-driving cars on the road. 

Drone company Ehang, Chinese car manufacturer Geely, Volkswagen AG, and even Google have recently invested in EVtol aircraft technology, signaling that while the concept seems extremely futuristic right now, working prototypes might not be too far down the line. Japan’s goal is to have an EVtol aircraft carry someone to light the torch at the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo. 

And while many cutting-edge technology developers are excited about the idea, flying cars still have serious critics. Tesla Inc. Chief Executive Elon Musk, for example, says that drone-style cars are untenable. Existing drones already blow out a lot of air, he said, so anything heavier is not practical. “If you want a flying car, just put wheels on a helicopter,” Musk said during an interview. “Your neighbors are not going to be happy if you land a flying car in your backyard or on your rooftop.” 

Whether this latest idea in autonomous transportation really takes off remains to be seen. 

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