SkyDrive air taxi lands at CES 2022 – but no-one's allowed to fly in it

SkyDrive Model SD-03
(Image credit: SkyDrive)

The future of personal air travel is so close you can almost touch it – or sit in it. If you happen to be in Las Vegas at CES 2022 you'll find, nestled in the usually bustling Eureka Park start-up exhibit area, SkyDrive's Model SD-03 ultra-light, compact flying vehicle. You can, if you like, climb right in.

With its eight horizontal rotors, the SkyDrive vehicle looks more like a giant drone than a flyer capable of carrying a human. It's small – cramped even. The EV flyer measures just 4 meters by 4 meters by 2 meters tall. That's right, you will not be standing inside the Model SD-03. In fact, it has room for exactly one occupant. If you ever do fly inside it, you'll have to be both passenger and pilot. Company representatives told TechRadar that they're working on a 2-seater Model SD-05.

SkyDrive Model SD-03 cockpit

(Image credit: SkyDrive)

Despite the tiny cabin, it can hoist roughly 1,000 pounds into the air (that includes the air taxi's own fuselage weight). After a vertical takeoff (something that makes this and other EV air taxis attractive for more densely populated areas and rescue missions), the SkyDrive Model SD-03 can fly at a max cruise speed of between 24- and 31 mph. That's a decidedly leisurely pace for flight. The company would not comment on if the air taxi includes any sensors for obstacle avoidance.

Between the pokey speed and a maximum of 10 minutes of flight time, this air taxi is designed for short trips, at best. (Come to think of it, that might be just right for avoiding CES taxi lines.)

“What we want to see in the future is that SkyDrive’s emission-free vehicles take off from and land in your parking lot and helipads atop buildings, making door-to-door air travel a realistic choice of daily urban transportation,” said SkyDrive Chief Operating Officer Takehiro Sato in a release.

SkyDrive Model SD-03

(Image credit: SkyDrive)

Despite the drone enthusiast looks, SkyDrive, which launched its efforts to bring flight to our personal mobility arsenal in 2018, claims this Model SD-03 is fully tested for a piloted flight.

However, aside from test flights, the SkyDrive Model SD-03 is still years away from regular air taxi use. The Japanese company hopes to employ it as an air taxi in Osaka, Japan, during World Expo 2025, a goal it's now more likely to achieve after Japan's Transportation Ministry accepted its flight certification. SkyDrive claims it's the first flying vehicle developer to achieve this distinction.

SkyDrive is far from the first EV Air Taxi company. Over the last few years, everyone from Uber and Hyundai and companies like Bell Helicopter have presented their take on personal and passengered air taxis at CES. Most, like Uber's, are larger, accomodating pilots and multiple passengers.

All we know is that there still isn't a single EV air taxi in operation and we look forward to Sky Drive and its Model SD-03 kickstarting the personal commuting revolution a few years from now at World Expo.

Lance Ulanoff
Editor At Large

A 38-year industry veteran and award-winning journalist, Lance has covered technology since PCs were the size of suitcases and “on line” meant “waiting.” He’s a former Lifewire Editor-in-Chief, Mashable Editor-in-Chief, and, before that, Editor in Chief of and Senior Vice President of Content for Ziff Davis, Inc. He also wrote a popular, weekly tech column for Medium called The Upgrade.

Lance Ulanoff makes frequent appearances on national, international, and local news programs including Live with Kelly and Ryan, the Today Show, Good Morning America, CNBC, CNN, and the BBC.