Last fall (until about November), Japan was hit by a series of unseasonable typhoons. In fact, these storms began to affect both Nagano and the Kanto region, where under normal circumstances they would annually hit the Shikoku and Kyushu islands. For this reason, these areas faced severe damages and became more vulnerable to impending danger. It can be said that this change is directly caused by the manifestation of Global Warming (Climate change).
As we discussed this issue of Global Warming last month, we will now analyze the introduction of the technological innovation of the “Hover Bike”, or the “Flying Bike”, which was showcased in the Tokyo Auto Show this past Fall. Around the same time, Uber Technologies, and American rideshare company, developed the “Flying Taxi” in the US and Australia, and announced in a newspaper article that it would be fully implemented by 2030. Although the idea of flight is attractive, there is a major concern regarding the potential dangers of the accidents that can be caused by such machine. There will be a need to develop new safety standards and traffic rules for the device. How can we safely and conveniently use this new technology? Because this product is indeed a new form of an advanced technological innovation, we would like to discuss its practicable uses.
The contents of this discussion will be introduced similarly to the following conversation between Akiko (A) and Benjamin (B):
A: Were there any new products in the 2019 Tokyo Auto Show?
B: Usually they focus on things like car designs and fuel efficiency, but this year’s big topic was the flying car!
A: That sounds so cool! Which companies were there? What kind of vehicles were showcased?
B: This Tokyo-based company called “Sky Drive” had a huge exhibition. They’re apparently funded by Toyota and are headquartered in Shinjuku! They’re creating the “Hover Bike”, which is basically a flying motorcycle. They’re planning to commercialize it by 2030. In last year’s show, they announced that they’ll make 100 prototypes, and by early this year it’ll be delivered.
A: What kind of clientele was the company targeting? Young people? They can’t possibly afford that kind of vehicle. How much is it?
B: They’re mainly trying to appeal to wealthy foreigners. Its priced the same as an expensive sports car.
A: How are they going to sell it?
B: They plan to open a drive test event in the Middle East by the first half of 2020.
A: How does the bike model perform?
B: It operates on propellers and can fly up to 10m, at a speed of 200kph. Its like a bullet train! But in Japan it’s strictly prohibited to hover over the street, so it’s basically a leisure item.
A: I heard that in the US the flying taxi’s in development. How is that going?
B: Uber’s the one developing the “Flying Taxi”. They teamed up with an Australian company and said that they’ll conduct a test flight there in 2023.
A: What kind of car is it?
B: It seats 3-4 people and the team is aiming to have it fly at about 240 kph. After they create a prototype, they’re planning to have a flight test in San Paolo, Brazil. They say that where a regular car takes 2 hours to get to a place, the taxi can make it in 20 minutes!
A: How much is the taxi fare?
B: Its supposed to cost three times the amount of a regular taxi. If that’s the case, I think people would only use the service if they need to go somewhere in an emergency.
A: Other than Uber and Sky Drive, what other companies are developing this type of vehicle?
B: The company Kitty Hawk made a prototype and test-drove it 700 times. They already released a video of the experiment! Other than that, in Germany the company Ilium is developing a four-seater vehicle, while Volocopter is developing a two-seater vehicle.
A: If these products officially become commercialized and used, I’m sure there will be issues regarding safety. Have these companies thought of a solution?
B: The current safety precautions seem very similar to those of an airplane, but the procedures will be extremely costly. They might need to involve local governments to make it safer and affordable to use such a vehicle. Even then, there are still many things that need to be addressed and considered!
A: They’ll also need to come up with insurance policies. Looks like they have a lot on their plate!