Engineers Rushing to Build Flying Car in Time For the 2020 Tokyo Games

Engineers in Tokyo are attempting to build a flying car that will help light the Olympic cauldron in 2020. And even though they still have a few years, it’s a race against time to achieve what so many other flying car designers have failed to do: Build a safe and reliable flying machine that can handle both the skies and the roads.

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The engineering group in Tokyo, called the Cart!vator, is working night and day to get their prototype fully functional. The “flying car” will have vertical take off and landing capabilities (VTOL) and the ability to drive on paved surfaces. The long term goal? The group, founded by Tsubasa Nakamura, hopes that after the Olympic Games they can finally turn us all into George and Jane Jetsons.

“If technological innovation is achieved in the battery performance and other fields, the vehicle could be commercialized in the future,” Masafumi Miwa, an engineer working with the group, told Asahi Shimbun.

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The finished flying machine will reportedly be about 10 feet long and 4 feet wide, though my own efforts to contact the group about specs have so far gone unanswered. The group told Asahi Shimbun that they hope to ultimately achieve a range of roughly 30 miles while flying about 160 feet in the air.

The group has reportedly raised just over $25,000 so far to continue their efforts, but they need more money to get the project off the ground (sorry). Whether they can make it fully functional in time for the Games, let alone something for general consumption, remains to be seen. But we’ll definitely keep you posted.

[Asahi Shimbun]

Matt Novak is the editor of Gizmodo's Paleofuture blog

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DISCUSSION

Why are flying cars still a thing to be sought after? Even if you can make them 100% safe and reliable, you still have to deal with the energy wasted JUST to overcome gravity.

Unfortunately, mankind has simply not reached the point where cars just naturally levitate like they do in the Jetsons and 5th Element. We can’t cancel gravity, we can only push air downwards using wings, fans, or thrusters, creating a ton of noise and expelling a ton of energy in the process.

Small planes and Helicopters/multi-blade “drones” are about as close as we will ever get to flying personal transportation until we suddenly discover anti-gravity technology.