• Kyodo

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Japan aims to build prototypes of electric flying cars and hold test flights next year, with the goal of putting the technology into practical use in the 2020s, a draft road map says.

The government expects flying vehicles to be used for leisure activities and cargo transportation in the 2020s, and for transportation in rural areas as well, it said at a public- and private-sector meeting Friday. By the 2030s, they are expected to be used in urban transportation.

The government plans to decide on mechanical standards for the vehicles and the technical skills to be required of their drivers, as well as laws to ensure safety. It will also support technological developments to limit noise pollution, and ensure flying vehicles are held to the same safety standards as airplanes.

The plan was proposed at a meeting involving officials from the industry ministry, airplane manufacturers and airline companies. The draft will be endorsed by the officials by the end of the year.

According to central government officials, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government and other governments have offered to make test sites available.

Flying cars will initially be used on remote islands and in mountainous areas. The government will coordinate landing areas and airspace.

Eventually, the government wants the vehicles to be able to fly autonomously and by remote control, the draft says.