Japan’s Roadmap for Flying Cars

Illustration imagining Japan's future flying cars.

In a move to get airborne vehicles off the ground in Japan, the government last August established the Public-Private Conference for Future Air Mobility. The group is made up of two government agencies, several universities, and 22 private companies and institutes, including NEC Corp, Japan Airlines, Subaru, Uber Japan, and Boeing Japan.

Then, on 20 December, the partners published a roadmap that outlines the technological development and establishment of regulations required to make flying vehicles a reality. The roadmap lays out an ambitious timeline with test flights targeted to start this year, and commercialization to begin in 2023.

“I’ve heard this is the first time in the world where public and private sectors have got together to formulate and announce a roadmap regarding flying cars,” says Kenji Mikami, who directs Japan’s Manufacturing Industries Technology Strategy Office at the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI).

Mikami, together with Keita Arakaki, a division head in Japan’s Civil Aviation Bureau, within the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport, and Tourism, briefed the foreign press in Tokyo at the end of January about the government’s efforts to kickstart the new industry.

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