Japan Successfully Tests Flying Car: A Leap In The Unmanned Commercial Aerial Vehicles Market

2 Sep, 2020

On August 28, Japanese company SkyDrive Inc. announced the successful public test flight for its new SD-03 flying car model—billed as the first demonstration of its kind in Japan. After the increasing applications of commercial unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) in various sectors such as delivery of goods, and transportation of products such as small packages, food, medical supplies, the concept of flying cars comes as no surprise.

The SD-03 was tested at 10,000-square-meter (approximately 2.5-acre) Toyota Test Field, one of the largest test fields in Japan. The single-seater aircraft-car mashup was manned by a pilot who circled the field for about four minutes before landing. SkyDrive said that the pilot was backed up by technical staff at the field who monitored conditions to ensure flight stability and safety. The flying car was designed to be the world’s smallest electric Vertical Take-Off and Landing (eVTOL) model.

The Global Market Model estimates the global unmanned commercial aerial vehicle market to grow from $1.18 billion in 2019 to $2.25 billion in 2023 at CAGR of 17.54%. The market is driven by its increasing applications in the commercial sector, in various industries such as agriculture, mining, security and law enforcement, journalism, and media & entertainment for various tasks such as surveys, maintenance operations, long-range sensing, aerial photography, inspecting of damaged assets, monitoring crops, collecting soil data and other high risk and dangerous operations.

Unmanned commercial aerial vehicle manufacturing companies are implementing improved batteries in their UAVs which could fly for longer and farther on just a single charge. Improvements in battery technology can be seen by the replacement of lithium-ion batteries with lithium-metal batteries which have twice the capacity and half the size when compared with the former ones. In April 2019, Cuberg, a USA-based startup, with the support of Boeing and the U.S Department of Energy, developed the lithium metal battery that was used in a quadcopter that flew 70% longer than the one powered by a lithium-ion battery. It uses non-flammable electrolyte that erases the safety risks associated with common lithium-ion batteries.

Security and privacy concerns are expected to limit the growth of the unmanned commercial aerial vehicle market. Risks are always associated with UAVs as they are vulnerable to hacking. UAVs rely on different sensors to locate and calculate flight altitude, and information is exchanged between the UAV and Ground Control Station (GCS). Therefore, reliance on communication links may be susceptible to hacking. In 2017, a security expert made a device to tune into the drone’s communication frequency. Even though the communication channel hopped every 11 milliseconds, the device waited on one channel and in the available 11 milliseconds, the drone’s encryption was hacked and it was hijacked. Thus, increased security and privacy problems linked with UAVs resulting in increased risk of hacking and privacy disclosure is limiting the growth of the unmanned commercial aerial vehicle market.

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