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Toyota invests in flying car company Cartivator

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【Summary】Toyota is making investment in a local startup called Cartivator, which plans to build a flying car for the opening ceremony of the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo.

Original Claire    May 15, 2017 4:00 PM PT
Toyota invests in flying car company Cartivator

EVs, autonomous vehicles, and now flying cars.

More and more auto suppliers or tech giants are joining the squad to create a next-generation world of future cars. Recently, the Japanese automaker Toyota announced it is making a small, yet important investment in a local startup called Cartivator, which plans to build a flying car for the opening ceremony of the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo.

The project started out 5 years ago by a group of engineers, including many from Toyota, to develop a three-wheel quadcopter that holds one passenger. Unlike other flying car concepts today that require a dedicated take-off and landing place, the "Skydrive" flying car the company is developing is meant to be used anywhere.

"We aim to create a world where anyone can fly in the sky anytime by 2050. To realize our vision, a compact flying car is necessary with a vertical takeoff and landing type (VTOL), which does not need roads and runways to take off." Cartivator said in its company website.

The vehicle is 9.5 foot by 4.3 foot, and designed to fly 33 feet meters above the ground, with a speed of up to 62 mph. It might be the "world's smallest" flying EV and can take off from any public roads.

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So far, Toyota has invested $353,000 in the project. Meanwhile, Cartivator received funds from Taizo Sun, the founder of Japanese web game developer GungHo Online Entertainment, as well as $22,000 from crowdfunding. The company is a Japanese startup with approximately 30 volunteers working with drone expert Masafumi Miwa, from Tokushima University.

Currently its entire engineering team occupies a former elementary school in Aichi, a county of central Japan for its office and testing site, while the company's business team is based in Tokyo. Cartivator has targeted 2023 for its first consumer sales, and mass-production to begin by 2030.

Toyota has shown great interest in new technologies, and announced plans last week to invest $9.3 billion on new technology. The company has formed a series of partnerships in recent years in innovation transportation ventures, such as the three-wheeled Toyota iRoad and FV2, which is driven by a person who stands up.

"Things will not progress if you wait and provide money only when the technology is ready," Toyota Chairman Takeshi Ichiyamada told Nikkei Asian Revew.



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