Japan’s “flying car” developer SkyDrive snags $14M, expects manned test flight this year

The SkyDrive team
Image credit: SkyDrive

See the original story in Japanese.

Tokyo-based SkyDrive, the Japanese drone startup spun off from the Cartivator volunteer group consisting of aircraft, drone and automotive engineers, announced on Monday that it has secured 1.5 billion yen (about $13.9 million US). The investment round is unknown but participating investors are Drone Fund, Z Corporation (investment arm of Yahoo Japan), Strive, Itochu Technology Ventures, and Energy & Environment Investment.

Drone Fund and Z Corporation have participated in the startup’s past rounds. The company claims that the latest round brought their funding sum up to 2 billon yen (about $18.5 million US). Coinciding with the funding, Tatso Tsutsumi, General Partner of Strive, will join the board of SkyDrive as an outside director. The starutp will use the funds to speed up developing their drone to conduct a test flight within this year.

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SkyDrive’s so-called “flying car” is an electrically-powered, vertical take-off and landing pilotless aircraft. As a new trend in the mobility industry, the drone is expected to be used for taxi service in cities, means for transportation in remote islands and mountainous areas, emergency transport in the event of a diaster. Compared to conventional air crafts, the drone is cost-effective, makes lower noise but requires a smaller space for take-off and landing.

SkyDrive was qualified as a finalist in the Tokyo Startup Gateway 2014 startup incubator, and then won the 5th place at the Launch Pad pitch competition at Infinity Ventures Summit 2015 Spring in Miyazaki. We have learned that the company secured funds from Drone Fund’s 2nd fund earlier this year.

Translated by Masaru Ikeda