Toyota Motor Corp. has invested in a startup company that hopes to get a flying car off the ground to deliver the Olympic torch at the 2020 Tokyo games.
Toyota, which has its North American headquarters in Plano, has invested 42.5 million yen in Cartivator. That’s roughly $386,000.
Cartivator Resource Management, a small Japanese tech firm, is using Toyota’s backing to work on a better design for the vehicle. Longer-term, Toyota sees it as part of its “aerial solutions,” NBC News reported.
Cartivator plans to have the first manned flight in 2019, Quartz reported.
The current version of Cartivator’s “SkyDrive” flying car is a prototype of aluminum framing and eight propellers.
It barely got off the ground and crashed after a few seconds during a test flight Saturday in the unidentified city where Cartivator is based.
It’s all a part of the growing pains for Cartivator, whose goal is to deliver a seamless transition from driving to flight — kind of like in the movie Back to the Future, according to project leader Tsubasa Nakamura.
“My longtime dream was to have a personal vehicle that can fly and go many places.”
“I always love planes and cars. And my longtime dream was to have a personal vehicle that can fly and go many places,” Nakamura told the Associated Press.
The final version of the car will be able to fly 33 feet above the ground at up to 62 miles per hours, Quartz reported.
Toyota is known for investing in businesses other than cars under its brand name.
Recently it has ventured into artificial intelligence and robotics, pouring billions of dollars into a research and development company in the Silicon Valley, according to the AP report.
In Japan, it also is working on the use of robotics to help folks with partial paralysis walk. And recently Toyota announced a five-year $35 million investment in a Michigan-based research center for autonomous and connected vehicle technologies.
Carvinator isn’t the only player in the flying vehicle business.
Uber announced earlier this year that Dallas-Fort Worth would be the testing site by 2020 for the flying vehicles that it is developing in its Elevate initiative.
DFW would be the first area in the nation to see Uber’s on-demand vertical takeoff and landing aircraft, and one of two areas in the world.
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