The technological revolution has been put on hold—at least in sports. That’s certainly how it looked during the opening ceremonies of the most recent Olympic Winter Games in Pyeongchang, as the South Korean athlete Kim Yuna opened the two-week sporting event in the same traditional manner as in the majority of the Games for the past 92 years: carrying a torch and running up the stairs in the stadium to light the Olympic Flame beneath the roof.
In two years the procedure could look quite different—at least that’s the vision of a group of developers at the Japanese automobile manufacturer Toyota. They’ve come together for a project named Cartivator. Their plan: at the 2020 Summer Games in Tokyo, they hope to have an athlete fly the torch right up to the Olympic Flame in a flying car—and revolutionize mobility forever.
The car is more of a giant drone, about three meters long and with large propellers on all corners. The developers report that the car should be able to reach speeds of about 100 kilometers an hour. Initial tests have already been completed, yet realizing their vision will most likely be challenging. It has been reported that the prototype managed to rise up to eye level for several seconds only to come crashing back down to the ground.
By July 2020, the Cartivator should be up and running—thus making the Japanese developers the winners in the unofficial race to create the first flying car. A number of companies are currently working on drone cars suitable for everyday use—from the American startup Kitty Hawk to airplane manufacturer Airbus to taxi alternative Uber.
The first crewed Cartivator test flight may be taking place this year, but the project team’s vision goes well beyond just the Olympic Games in two years time: “By 2050,” the initiators write in their mission statement, “we want to help every person be able to fly anywhere at any time.”