SkyDrive, a prominent eVTOL aircraft manufacturer in Japan, has been selected by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) for funding under the "Next-generation Air Mobility Field" category of the Small and Medium Enterprise Innovation Promotion Project (SBIR Phase3). The company has been granted an amount of approximately 12.4 billion yen (about USD 82.7 million) to further its technological development aimed at addressing societal challenges such as traffic congestion and emissions reduction.
The SBIR program is an initiative by the Japanese government, geared towards financially aiding startups that are spearheading advanced technologies to tackle significant societal concerns. By backing research and developmental projects that show promise in terms of growth and societal benefit, the program hopes to drive innovation and practical solutions.
SkyDrive’s Progress in eVTOL Technology
SkyDrive is at the forefront of crafting a multicopter-type eVTOL aircraft which can accommodate two passengers in addition to a pilot. Designed to weigh less than 1.5 tons at maximum takeoff, SkyDrive's aircraft aims to be a model of safety, environmental-friendliness, and quiet operation. The aircraft boasts a distinctive, patent-pending rotor frame technology, positioning it as an ideal vehicle for landing on rooftops, a feature that could make it a preferred choice for daily commuters, families, and friends due to its proposed affordable per-person operating cost.
It's worth noting that the eVTOL landscape is competitive. There are nearly 10 eVTOL companies, SkyDrive included, that are currently undergoing the type certification process for their respective aircrafts.
The Influence of the SBIR Program on SkyDrive’s Future
The funding from the SBIR program is expected to catalyze SkyDrive's R&D endeavors, emphasizing the enhancement of its eVTOL aircraft's performance, safety standards, and overall efficiency. Additionally, the grant will aid SkyDrive in fine-tuning new technologies and systems that are pivotal for the successful introduction and proliferation of eVTOLs, not just within Japan but also globally.
The overarching goal for SkyDrive, with the backing of the SBIR program, is to fine-tune the aircraft to align with market demands and operator specifications, pave the way for mass production, and secure Type Certification for commercial operation within the next half-decade.