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London Tech Week

SkyDrive flies off with $66M funding to develop flying cars and cargo drones

SkyDrive 05
Image credits: SkyDrive 05

Currently, numerous flying car projects are in progress globally, which are expected to revolutionise air transport. And recently, a lot of such companies have been hitting the headlines for various reasons.

A few months back, A.L.I Technologies, a Tokyo-based company known for manufacturing flying motorbikes called Xturismo Limited, announced its decision to float on the Tokyo stock exchange through an IPO to raise further funds.

And now, its SkyDrive.

SkyDrive, a Tokyo-based developer of flying cars and cargo drones, has raised ¥9.6B ($66M) in the Series C round of funding, bringing the total amount raised to ¥14.7B. The round was conducted through a third-party allotment of new shares and bank loans to 13 companies, including MUFG Bank, Ltd. 

The Series C announcement comes one year after raising funds in the Series B round in September 2020. 

The company plans to use cargo drones to support companies and individuals in their highly hazardous and heavy work. Then, by launching air mobility services in 2025, SkyDrive will commercialise drones for people who want to move freely in the sky.

Image credits: SkyDrive

Flying cars and cargo drones

Founded in 2018, SkyDrive is developing flying cars and cargo drones capable of transporting objects weighing 30kg to realise a future that utilises the sky for everyday transportation. The Japanese company completed its successful manned flight of the first flying car in 2019.

Tomohiro Fukuzawa, Chief Executive Officer, SkyDrive Inc, says, “Since the completion of Round B Financing two years ago, the world has seen a dramatic increase in the movement toward the full-scale realization of New Air Mobility, including business drones, and SkyDrive has also been promoting the full-scale launch of its cargo drone business and the development of its commercial vehicle, the SD-05. We are very grateful for the new financing and the opportunity to announce a capital alliance with those closely involved in our business.

The company recently unveiled a commercial model flying car — the SkyDrive SD-05 to launch an air taxi service in the Osaka Bay area during the world exposition scheduled for 2025 in Osaka, Japan.

SkyDrive SD-05

The SD-05 is a two-seat, electric-powered compact aircraft with vertical takeoff and landing capabilities. Operated by a driver pilot, its flight stability is secured with a computer-controlled flight system. It is designed to travel up to approx. 10 km, and the maximum cruise speed is 100 km/h. 

However, the company claims that design and specifications are subject to change and the progress of design development.

For the SD-05, SkyDrive and its partners have worked together with

  •  JAMCO Corporation, an interior aircraft maker.
  • Toray Carbon Magic Co, a provider of advanced Carbon Fiber Reinforcement Plastics.
  • Electric Power Systems, a battery system developer for high-power powertrains for electrified aircraft.

The company is acquiring a type certificate for the SD-05 from the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport, and Tourism (MLIT), as the first of its kind in Japan. 

The company continues to work toward initiating the practical use of flying cars during the World Exposition Osaka, Kansai scheduled for 2025 in Japan. 

Fukuzawa says, “We are having various discussions with the Kansai Electric Power Company Inc., Kintetsu Group Holdings, Inc., and Resona Group to start a business mainly in the Kansai area. We are collaborating with SCSK Corporation on software development and with Suzuki Motor Corporation on mass production and potential sales in India and other parts of Asia. We are currently studying with Sompo Japan Insurance Inc. and Tokio Marine Holdings, Inc. on insurance to ensure safety and security, and Toyoda Iron Works Co., Ltd., Nippon Kayaku Co., Ltd., and NHK Spring Co., Ltd. cooperate with us in the development of the entire mobility, with a focus on parts.”

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