Monday 20th Nov 2017 - Logistics & Supply Chain

Flight of fantasy?

Can’t say I am a regular reader of the “Nikkei Asian Review”, but when it headlined a story “Toyota decides flying cars aren’t so crazy after all”, I couldn’t resist having a look.

Malory Davies FCILT, Editor.

Malory Davies FCILT, Editor.

After all, if you can have a flying car, why not a flying truck or delivery van?

So what makes Toyota think that a flying car is a serious proposition? According to the “Nikkei Asian Review”, project “Cartivator” started in 2012 when project leader Tsubasa Nakamura won a business contest. The team is receiving help from a drone expert at Tokushima University.

Toyota has, apparently, agreed to donate $350,000 to the project, and the team plans to have a prototype ready for a manned test flight by the end of next year. If that works, they could have a vehicle on the market by 2020.

But why would you bother to do this? Well the argument seems to be that flying cars need no roads – and no roads means no road congestion. Flying cars could result in a dramatic change in traffic flows.

At this point, I can almost hear muttering along the lines of “pigs might fly”. And if it weren’t for the involvement of a major motor manufacturer, I would probably be saying that too.

After all, we already have aeroplanes, helicopters and hovercraft, as well as drones. Is there really a gap in the market for a flying car?

But the prospect is intriguing. If it works, would it make sense to have manned flying delivery vehicles, or would a more likely option be that the roads were freed up for goods vehicles?

I look forward to seeing the results of project Cartivator, but will it revolutionise the supply chain? Not in my lifetime.

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