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.
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.
SkyLift eVTOL air cargo production drone
SkyLift is a production eVTOL air cargo drone with eight propellers and eight electric motors that is flown remotely or autonomously. The maximum payload of the SkyLift production drone is between 30-50 kg (66-110 lb) depending upon its configuration. If if the fail safe system is removed, the drone can lift up to 50 kg (110 lb). The drone can deliver its payload without landing by hovering and lowering the cargo to the ground using a 30 m (98 ft) hoist. The company has stated that SkyLift is scalable and in the future could carry heavier payloads, as heavy as 100 kg (220 lb), based on customer demand.
The drone's cruise speed is 36 km/h (22 mph), has a range of 2 km (1.24 miles) and has a flight time between 9-15 minutes depending upon the weight of the payload. The range and flight time of the drone will depend upon the weight of the payload. The redundant systems allow for hazardous products to be safely transported by air. The aircraft is small enough to fit inside the back of a van. The aircraft has fixed skid landing gear to keep complexity and weight to a minimum.
The company has stated the SkyLift is uniquely suited for areas where costs or terrain make it impractical or difficult for a helicopter or crane to operate. The use of the drone also makes working in mountainous and other inaccessible areas more efficient and less dangerous for workers. SkyLift has already been tested successfully by a large Japanese construction company to autonomously deliver materials like sandbags and timber to a remote, hard-to-reach locations.
SkyDrive foresees the SkyLift to be used for the transportation of any type of cargo in urban or rural areas. The company expects its drones to be used for delivery of goods, construction materials, construction tools, animal control, farm produce, offshore use, medical supplies, and ferrying luggage back and forth to hotels,
The company states by using the Cargo Drone, there will be a reduction in labor hours (because of less of a work load by employees), an increase in safety for employees (less slips and falls or back problems because the drone is doing the heavy lifting) and an increase in employee productivity.
The company has stated that SkyLift is scalable and in the future could carry heavier payloads based on customer demand.
Aircraft type: Scalable eVTOL air cargo production drone
Piloting: Remote or by autonomously
Capacity: Cargo only
Cruise speed: 36 km/h (22 mph)
Range: 2 km (1.24 miles)
Flight time: 9-15 minutes (depending upon the weight of the payload)
Empty weight: 55 kg (121 lb)
Maximum payload: 30-50 kg (66-110 lb)
Hoist option maximum payload: 20 kg (44 lb)
Maximum takeoff weight: Variable
Propellers: 8 propellers
Electric motors: 8 electric motors
Power source: Batteries
Landing gear: Fixed skid landing gear
Safety features: Distributed Electric Propulsion (DEP), provides safety through redundancy for its passengers and/or cargo. DEP means having multiple propellers (or ducted fans) and motors on the aircraft so if one or more propellers (ducted fans) or motors fail, the other working propellers (or ducted fans) and motors can safely land the aircraft. There are also redundancies of critical components in the sub-systems of the aircraft.
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