Flying cars are no longer science fiction. This past August, the Japanese company SkyDrive performed the first public test of its single-seat airborne vehicle, the SD-03. A pilot flew a prototype, or preliminary model, of the car about 3 meters (10 feet) off the ground and hovered there for four minutes before safely landing.
The SD-03 uses eight spinning rotors to generate lift. This upward force pushes the vehicle skyward. The rotors are evenly spaced around the vehicle, which keeps the car balanced so it can soar smoothly through the air.
The SD-03 can go as fast as 50 kilometers (31 miles) per hour for trips of up to 10 minutes. Flying cars could help connect people who live in remote areas with few or no roads or act as rescue vehicles, says Tomohiro Fukuzawa, chief executive officer of SkyDrive. “We want to realize a society where flying cars are an accessible and convenient means of transportation,” he says.