The distant future of flying cars might soon be arriving in Japan. Since 2018, Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) has partnered with the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism (MLIT) to develop a Roadmap for the Air Mobility Revolution, the world’s first effort to unite government and businesses to realize the potential of flying vehicles.
Defining a “flying vehicle”
Though no exact definition has yet been determined, the Roadmap describes such vehicles as “convenient and accessible air mobility solutions characterized by electrified vertical takeoffs and landings, as well as autonomous aircrafts.” The benefits of electric-powered vehicles, which have no internal combustion engine, include fewer total parts and lower overall maintenance costs. Advanced autonomous piloting systems will also help cut operational costs, and vertical takeoff and landing systems will eliminate the need for large and costly runways.
Less traffic, more disaster-response options
Flying vehicles are versatile mobility solutions with a wide variety of uses. Not only can they help reduce traffic congestion for commuters in cities, but they can also help connect communities in remote locations, such as islands or mountain ranges, allowing them to bypass difficult terrain with ease. By enabling mobility without roads or runways, flying vehicles can become lifelines in emergencies and disasters.
Milestones ahead of commercial use
None of this will be possible overnight, and not without the development of systems and standards to certify the safety of vehicle equipment and operational technology. To this end, METI and MLIT created the Public-Private Conference for the Future Air Mobility Revolution as a forum for discussion on flying vehicles in August 2018. To unite the efforts of government and business toward the goal of commercial flying vehicles, the joint conference released the world’s first Roadmap for the Air Mobility Revolution on December 20, 2018. The roadmap sets milestone toward the full commercialization of flying vehicles, beginning with the start of test flights and trials by 2019, business services by 2023, and expanded commercial use by the 2030s.
For updates on the progress of the Roadmap for the Air Mobility Revolution, continue to follow the latest news from METI.