A Japanese company has completed what it says is the first manned test of a single-seat octocopter in the country. SkyDrive did a four-minute hop with the SD-03 electric VTOL vehicle at the Toyota Test Field on Aug. 28. The pilot was at the controls but computers helped him maintain stability. There were also backup remote-control pilots watching from the ground. The company says the SD-03 has a separate motor for each of the eight rotors, which work in counter-rotating pairs.
Size matters in crowded places like Japan and the company says the SD-03 has the smallest footprint of any manned eVTOL. The aircraft is 13 feet square and stands 6 feet high and “requires only as much space on the ground as two parked cars.” The company repeatedly refers to the aircraft as a “flying car” in its literature but it isn’t equipped to drive on the road. The company is hoping Japan’s aviation regulators will sign off on flights outside the testing field before the end of the year.