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Japan's 'flying car' gets off ground, with a person aboard

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©SkyDrive/CARTIVATOR 2020

This photo taken at the beginning of August, 2020 and released by SkyDrive/CARTIVATOR 2020, shows a test flight of a manned '"flying car" at Toyota Test Field in Toyota, central Japan. Japans SkyDrive Inc., among the myriads of flying car projects around the world, has carried out a successful though modest test flight with one person aboard. (SkyDrive/CARTIVATOR 2020 via AP)

TOKYO – The decades-old dream of zipping around in the sky as simply as driving on highways may be becoming less illusory.

Japan’s SkyDrive Inc., among the myriads of “flying car” projects around the world, has carried out a successful though modest test flight with one person aboard.

In a video shown to reporters on Friday, a contraption that looked like a slick motorcycle with propellers lifted several feet (1-2 meters) off the ground, and hovered in a netted area for four minutes.

Tomohiro Fukuzawa, who heads the SkyDrive effort, said he hopes “the flying car” can be made into a real-life product by 2023, but he acknowledged that making it safe was critical.

“Of the world’s more than 100 flying car projects, only a handful has succeeded with a person on board,” he told The Associated Press.

“I hope many people will want to ride it and feel safe.”

The machine so far can fly for just five to 10 minutes but if that can become 30 minutes, it will have more potential, including exports to places like China, Fukuzawa said.

Unlike airplanes and helicopters, eVTOL, or “electric vertical takeoff and landing,” vehicles offer quick point-to-point personal travel, at least in principle.