ABIKO, Japan – Japanese electronics maker NEC Corp. on Monday showed a “flying car,” a large drone-like machine with four propellers that hovered steadily for about a minute.
The test flight reaching 10 feet high was held in a gigantic cage, as a safety precaution, at an NEC facility in a Tokyo suburb. The preparations such as the repeated checks on the machine and warnings to reporters to wear helmets took up more time than the two brief demonstrations.
The Japanese government is behind flying cars, with the goal of having people zipping around in them by the 2030s.
Among the government-backed endeavors is a huge test course for flying cars that's built in an area devastated by the 2011 tsunami, quake and nuclear disasters in Fukushima in northeastern Japan. Mie, a prefecture in central Japan that's frequently used as a resort area by Hollywood celebrities, also hopes to use flying cars to connect its various islands.
Similar projects are popping up around world, such as Uber Air of the U.S.
A flying car by Japanese startup Cartivator crashed quickly in a 2017 demonstration. Cartivator Chief Executive Tomohiro Fukuzawa, who was at Monday's demonstration, said their machines were also flying longer lately.
NEC is among the more than 80 sponsor companies for Cartivator's flying car, which also include Toyota Motor Corp. group companies and video game company Bandai Namco Holdings.
The goal is to deliver a seamless transition from driving to flight like the world of “Back to the Future,” although huge hurdles remain such as battery life, the need for regulations and safety concerns.