Business / Tech

Japanese government to give flying cars a jump-start

Kyodo

The government will launch a public-private council this year to discuss the practical use of flying cars in hopes of bringing more companies outside the automobile industry into the effort, according to Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga.

Given the slow development of such vehicles among Japan’s automakers, Suga said at a news conference Monday the government wants to “urge new players to join” the field.

Flying cars, which include those taking off and landing vertically or operating without drivers, are expected to help ease traffic jams in urban areas.

While startups and engineering groups are involved in developing technologies for eventual production of such vehicles, little progress has been made for legislation on securing their safety.

Suga said the government hopes flying cars will also play a role in mountainous areas and remote islands as well as during natural disasters.

The council, involving the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry as well as the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism, will likely draw up a road map, he added.

In Japan, Cartivator, a group of volunteers working in the auto and aviation industries, aims to demonstrate flying vehicles during the opening ceremonies of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Outside Japan, French-based airplane manufacturer Airbus tested a one-person flying vehicle in January, while U.S. ride-hailing service provider Uber Technologies Inc. has unveiled a plan to put such cars into practical use by 2023.