Japan’s “flying car” developer SkyDrive secures $37M series B, unveils piloted demo flight


Tokyo-based SkyDrive, the Japanese drone startup spun off from the Cartivator volunteer group consisting of aircraft, drone and automotive engineers, announced on Friday that it has secured 3.9 billion yen (about $36.8 million US) in a series B round. Participating investors in this round are:

  • Development Bank of Japan
  • Itochu (TSE:8001)
  • Itochu Technology Ventures
  • Eneos Innovation Partners
  • Obayashi Corporation (TSE:1802)
  • Energy & Environment Investment
  • Strive
  • NEC (TSE:6701)
  • Veriserve
  • Sumitomo Mitsui Finance and Leasing

For SkyDrive, this follows their series A round back in September of 2019. Among the investors participating in the latest round, Itochu Technology Ventures, Energy & Environment Investment, and Strive participated in the previous round. Since its seed round back in November of 2018, the company has raised a total of 5.7 billion yen (about 53.8 million US) to date.

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.

Along with the announcement of the funding, SkyDrive has also announced that it has successfully conducted a four-minute public manned flight test at a test field in Toyota City, Aichi Prefecture, using its newly developed manned SD-03 aircraft. The company plans to continue to develop even safer and more secure technology by conducting further flight tests under a wider range of conditions based on the results.

SkyDrive hopes to have the SD-03 approved for flight by the end of this year and turn the prototype into a commercial model by 2023. The company is also developing another concept model, the SD-XX, which is said to be capable of flying at a maximum altitude of 500 meters, 100 kilometers per hour, and a range of 19 kilometers.