Toyota Flying Car on the Horizon

Melvyn Teillol-Foo

Toyota ‘Sky Drive’ Vehicle

Toyota Motor Corporation is working on a “flying car”.

Sky Drive Toyota car by Cartivator

CART!VATOR is a startup — backed by Toyota — that has tested a proof-of-concept platform, which engineers hope to develop into a tiny car for a driver who’ll light the Olympic torch — high in the sky — at the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games.


Sky Drive Test Bed (photo by Koji Ueda)

As of last week, the project is a ‘Heath Robinsonesque’ fabrication of aluminum frames and eight propellers that barely got off the ground.

Sky Drive Test Bed (photo by Koji Ueda)


Sky Drive Test Bed (photo by Koji Ueda)

Toyota Motor Corporation invested 42.5 million yen (US$386,000) in startup, CART!VATOR Resource Management, to work on ‘Sky Drive’. At the test flight on 3rd June 2017 in Toyota City (Aichi Prefecture), where the automaker is based, a test bed — about the size of a car and loaded with batteries and sensors — threw up a sand storm and made a lot of noise.

By the way, did you notice that Toyota Motor Corporation HQ is at #1 Toyota-Cho, Toyota City?   That is real power…to have a whole city named after you: kudos Mr Toyoda!


Sky Drive Test Bed (photo by Koji Ueda)

An abandoned school ground in Toyota City was the site of the test flight.

Toyota City offered the closed elementary school premises to CART!VATOR as their R&D base.

Sky Drive Test Bed (photo by Koji Ueda)

It managed to hover up as high as eye level for several seconds before tilting and falling to the ground.

It was saved by a “hi-tech safety system” — basketballs attached at the bottom served as cushions.   🙂

Sky Drive Test Bed (photo by Koji Ueda)


Sky Drive Test Bed (photo by Koji Ueda)

After several “flights”, the test was cancelled after one of the covers detached from the frame and broke, damaging the propellers.

Sky Drive Test Bed (photo by Koji Ueda)

“Cartivator is tasked with delivering a seamless transition from driving to flight, like the world of ‘Back to the Future’,” said the project leader Tsubasa Nakamura, “I always loved planes and cars. And my long time dream was to have a personal vehicle that can fly and go many places.”


“The origin of CART!VATOR comes from idea that we would like to be a CULTIVATOR who is producing excited experiences with a car (CAR). Instead of using “i”, we use “!” for Cartivator to express our exciting experience. The logo mark with a wing on a streamlined body stands for the image that seems to fly away at any moment.”

Toyota’s money will help the group to work on a better design for the first manned flight in 2019.

No one has ridden on Sky Drive yet, or any drone for that matter…..

How long before an AlphaLuxe reader flies around in a Toyota Flying Car, I wonder?


Sky Drive


Length 2,900mm (9.5 ft)
Width 1,300mm (4.27 ft)
Height 1,100mm (3.6 ft)
Maximum Flight Speed (Target) 100km/h (62 mph)
Maximum Driving Speed (Target) 150km/h (93mph)
Flight Altitude (Target) 〜10m (33 feet)



2012.09 Nakamura and friends won 1st prize at a business contest “KOREARATA”.
Team “CART!VATOR” was born.
2014.01 Started development of a flying car called “SkyDrive”.
2014.07 Succeeded in flying and driving a 1/5th scale prototype model.


2014.11 Won the outstanding performance award at “TOKYO STARTUP GATEWAY”.
2014.12 Started joint development with Mr.Hirano from Flying Chair project and Associate Prof. Miwa from Tokushima University.
2015.01 Raised 2.6 million yen on “zenmono”, a Japanese crowd funding website.
2015.02 Started partnership with Associate Prof. Mori from Aerospace Engineering at Nagoya University.
2015.06 Won a prize at “2016 Spring IVS Launch Pad”.
2016.01 1st CART!VATOR meeting in Tokyo.
2017.06 Sky Drive Test Bed takes off


Toyota is More than Cars

Toyota is known for investing in technologies other than its core business.  Recently, it has been venturing into robotics and artificial intelligence, investing US$1 Billion in a R&D company in Silicon Valley. In Japan, home scientists are also working on using robotics to help the disabled to walk.  In Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA, Toyota is investing US$ 35 Million over 5 years at a research centre for autonomous and connected vehicle technologies.

“The idea that each generation must take up challenges is part of Toyota’s roots”, said auto analyst Takaki Nakanishi. Toyota President Akio Toyoda’s great-grandfather Sakichi Toyoda started out developing the loom and then automating it from the 1890s, before the company became an automaker. More recently, Toyota Future blueprint envisions software and services as central to the auto industry, as cars become connected, start autonomous driving and become lifestyle digital tools.  Toyota is becoming an energy company as well by getting into the business of ecological vehicles, hybrids, electric cars and fuel cells. “Toyota’s business is centred on mobility, anything that moves, including people, things, money, information, energy,” said Nakanishi.

Sky Drive




Author’s Biography:  Melvyn Teillol-Foo (MTF)

Dr Melvyn Teillol-Foo is a contributor on AlphaLuxe web-zine.
He is also a moderator on horology discussion fora. He blends his scientific medical objectivity from the pharmaceutical industry with purist passion, in his musings about watches, travel, wine, food and other epicurean delights.
His travelogue ‘Lazing’ and feasting ‘Grazing’ series of articles have now passed into “mythic legend” on the original ‘’ website. Those were the halcyon days when he was “rich and famous” that he remembers with bittersweet fondness.

Dr Teillol-Foo is a quoted enthusiast on the watch industry, appearing in feature articles and interviews by Wall Street Journal, International Herald Tribune, Sunday Times (London), Chronos (Japan), Citizen Hedonist (France) and other publications.  He has authored articles for magazines like International Watch (iW) – both U.S. & Chinese editions, ICON (Singapore), August Man (Singapore), Comfort (China) and The Watch (Hong Kong).

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