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SkyDrive SD-03 (technology demonstrator)

SkyDrive SD-03 first public flight.


SD-03 (technology demonstrator)
SkyDrive Inc.
Toyota City, Aichi Prefecture, Japan

Founded in July 2018, SkyDrive Inc. is an electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) manufacturer based in Toyota City, Aichi Prefecture, Japan. Tomohiro Fukuzawa is the chief executive officer and Nobuo Kishi is the chief technology officer. The mission of the company is to take the lead in the once-in-a-century mobility revolution to design and produce eVTOL passenger and air cargo aircraft for advanced air mobility (AAM). According to a SkyDrive article on April 6, 2023, its cumulative funding has now exceeded ¥15 billion yen. (All images: SkyDrive)

The company's goals is to make eVTOL aircraft safer than conventional aircraft, less costly, less noisy, autonomous and that require less infrastructure. The plan is to start using the aircraft in the mid-2020s for air transportation of goods and people in areas where conventional public transportation is slow or almost nonexistent in rural and urban areas. The company's vision is to create a future where everyone has access to eVTOL aircraft as their daily transportation in Japan and across the world.

Brief history
A brief history of the company starts in September 2012 when Tomohiro Fukuzawa formed a volunteer group automotive, drone and aviation industry professionals, who would meet outside of business hours and started discussions by first stating "Let's do something interesting". Based on Fukuzawa's automotive background, he asked the group a fundamental question, "How do people move?" Eventually, more than 100 ideas were talked about, such as cars which could also be submarines to small enough cars that could move from room to room, inside a building.

After a year and a half of discussions in 2013, the group decided on flying cars. The company they formed was called Cartivator. The company name was created by combining the word car and cultivate with the definition of cultivate being more towards the word pioneer. As the business matured, it became difficult to continue with volunteer workers. This is why in July 2018, about 30 people from Cartivator founded SkyDrive Inc. The company originally had plans to make a flying car, a vehicle that can fly in the "Sky" and "Drive" on the road, hence the name SkyDrive. However, the company is only making eVTOL passenger aircraft at this time.

SD-03 passenger eVTOL technology demonstrator aircraft
The SD-03 eVTOL technology demonstrator aircraft is SkyDrive's answer to UAM in densely populated cities around the world. The company has designed this aircraft as an on-demand air taxi booked using cell phone. After booking a flight, the SD-03 would safely and autonomously fly passengers to their destination.

In January 2022, SkyDrive officially unveiled the aircraft at CES 2022, and this event marked the first time the SD-02 had been shown outside of Japan. Attendees were able to interact with the aircraft, and had the opportunity to sit in the pilot seat.

The aircraft has the capacity to carry a single passenger, and has an approximate cruise speed of 40-50 km/h (25-31 mph) with a maximum flight time of 5-10 minutes. It is 4 meters long (13.1 ft), 4 meters wide (13.1 ft) and 2 meters high (6.6 ft), allowing the craft to fit in the space of two parking spaces. The company expects the speed and flight time to increase by 2026.

The SkyDrive SD-03 eVTOL aircraft was first flown in public, for about four minutes, at the Toyota Test Field (Toyota, Japan) on Aug. 25, 2020. It has been reported that this was the first "flying car" demonstration in Japan per SkyDrive. The company has a goal of gaining flight testing approval, for outside of the test field area, by the end of 2020. SkyDrive points out that flight testing is extremely important part of making an eVTOL aircraft and there are still many eVTOL aircraft companies which have not performed full scale flight testing.

We are extremely excited to have achieved Japan’s first-ever manned flight of a flying car in the two years since we founded SkyDrive in 2018 with the goal of commercializing such aircraft. We aim to take our social experiment to the next level in 2023 and to that end we will be accelerating our technological development and our business development.

We want to realize a society where flying cars are an accessible and convenient means of transportation in the skies and people are able to experience a safe, secure, and comfortable new way of life. We also aspire to develop markets around the world, in collaboration with our partner companies, so that an urban air mobility society with aircraft supplied by SkyDrive becomes a reality not only in Japan but also across the globe.

—Tomohiro Fukuzawa, CEO, SkyDrive

The electric propellers are on booms located on each corner of the aircraft. Each boom has two electric propellers and to electric motors and each set of rotors, rotate in opposite directions. The use of eight propellers and eight electric motors are to increase safety in case if one or two motors fail.

The electric propellers are on booms located on each corner of the aircraft. Each boom has two electric propellers and to electric motors and each set of rotors, rotate in opposite directions. The use of eight propellers and eight electric motors are to increase safety in case if one or two motors fail.

The aircraft has two white lights in front and a red light running around the bottom of the fuselage. The company proposes this type of lighting will be unique to eVTOL aircraft to make it easy for people on the ground to tell which way the aircraft is going. The main exterior color of the SD-03 is pearl white which was chosen to represent white birds and the floating clouds in the sky.

SkyDrive raised ¥3.9 billion in Series B round of fundraising was announced at a press conference, on Aug. 28, 2020 in Tokyo. The company's goal is to have their eVTOL aircraft certified and operations take place in 2023 with the first potential flight zones in the bay areas of Tokyo and Osaka, Japan.

SkyDrive had its first international debut of the full-scale SD-03 eVTOL one passenger demonstrator aircraft at the Consumer Electronics Show (January 5-8, 2022) in Las Vegas (Nevada, USA). The company now expects its SD-05 one passenger eVTOL production model to enter service in Japan in 2025.


  • Aircraft type: eVTOL passenger multicopter demonstrator aircraft
  • Piloting: 1 pilot
  • Cruise speed: 40-50 km/h (25-31 mph)
  • Maximum flight time: 5-10 minutes
  • Altitude: 150 meters (492 feet)
  • Weight: 400 kg (882 lbs)
  • Propellers: 8 propellers
  • Electric Motors: 8 motors
  • Power source: Batteries
  • Lights: Front white light and rear T-shaped red light with red running lights under the aircraft
  • Dimensions: 4 meters long (13.1 ft) X 4 meters wide (13.1 ft) X 2 meters high (6.6 ft)
  • Windows: Open cockpit with a low wrap-around windscreen
  • Landing gear: Fixed skid type landing gear.
  • Safety Features: Distributed Electric Propulsion (DEP), provides safety through redundancy for its passengers and/or cargo. DEP means having multiple propellers and motors on the aircraft so if one or more motors or propellers fail, the other working motors and propellers can safely land the aircraft. One roll bar for pilot safety. White light in front, red light in back and red running lights on the bottom of the aircraft so people on the ground can see which way the aircraft if going.

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