Uber and Airbus have been enlisted by a Japanese government-led group to develop flying cars for the land of the rising sun. The plan is to have the airborne vehicles ready sometime this next decade.
The group will initially hold about 20 companies, including Boeing, NEC, Cartivator (a Toyota-backed startup), ANA Holdings, Japan Airlines and Yamato Holdings. Delegates are said to gather on August 29th for their first monthly meeting, reports Automotive News Europe.
According to an Uber spokeswoman, the ride-hailing giant is indeed going to participate in this group, while representatives for Airbus, Boeing, ANA, JAL, NEC, Yamato and Cartivator declined to comment – as did the trade and transport ministries.
Since Japanese companies are already behind their global rivals as far as electric and autonomous vehicles are concerned, the government is trying to focus on light aircraft technology, looking to facilitate legislation and infrastructure.
Across the globe, Uber is planning on investing 20 million euros ($23 million) over the next five years to develop flying car services in Paris, aiming for their first air-taxis to take off by 2023. Other companies that are also looking to the sky include the VW Group’s Audi, Daimler and Chinese automaker Geely.
While Japanese automakers have yet to announce similar plans, the country’s Economy Minister Hiroshige Seko told reporters that flying cars could ease urban traffic snarls and aid transportation on remote islands or mountainous areas. Until then, Japan wants to take lead on legislation regarding this new industry.