This Japanese company made its debut in the emerging AAM (advanced air mobility) industry with the world's smallest eVTOL. The SD-03 was a one-seat electric aircraft measuring 4 x 4 x 2 meters (13 x 13 x 6.5 feet). It could only handle 10 minutes in the sky at a maximum speed of 30 mph (50 kph), but it was a pioneering aircraft.
At the time, the SD-03 was the first eVTOL to carry out successfully piloted test flights in Japan. The builder itself was an industry trailblazer, becoming the first in the country to obtain type certification from the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism (MLIT) for its eVTOL.
SkyDrive moved fast. Two years after first introducing the SD-03 concept, this miniature eVTOL was on display at the 2022 CES in Las Vegas. By the end of that year, the Japanese manufacturer was ready to introduce a two-seat version called the SD-05. According to SkyDrive, the SD-05 was purposely designed as a compact alternative to bigger and heavier eVTOLs.
This Japanese eVTOL is meant to operate on short distances and give a helping hand in situations like heavy urban traffic, medical emergencies, and accessibility challenges in remote locations. Sporting eight propellers and a take-off weight of more than 1,000 lb (500 kg), the SD-05 can reach 60 mph (100 kph) and fly for 30 minutes on a single charge.
At the beginning of this year, SkyDrive scored its first private order for the two-seat electric air taxi (it had already secured pre-orders from commercial operators in different countries). Kotaro Chiba, a licensed pilot who became known as the first owner of a HondaJet in Japan, wanted also to lead the way when it came to flying cars. He reportedly bought the SD-05 for $1.5 million (JPY 200 million).
SkyDrive hopes to launch commercial services in 2025, which keeps it in line with all the major eVTOL manufacturers in the US and Europe. The award-winning SD-05 is also joined by a cargo version known as SkyLift. The SD-05 will be present at the 2025 World Expo, which is set to take place in Osaka, Japan, making it the perfect location for the Japanese flying car's debut.