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Toyota is hoping the 2020 Olympic Torch will be lit from its flying car

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Toyota has started funding a company that is aiming to create a flying ‘car’ that will kick off the festivities in Tokyo for the 2020 Olympics. The aim is that a driver will light the Olympic cauldron from the flying vehicle.

It’s an important moment in every Olympic ceremony, when the flame that has been constantly lit since the start of the Olympic Torch relay in 1936 finally arrives in the host city. 

Each country’s opening ceremony is an extravaganza, reflecting the culture of the country hosting the ceremony. Japan seems to be going full force with its representation of its technological innovations with this seriously out-there vehicle.

Where we’re going, we don’t need roads...

The ‘car’ isn’t technically a car – it’s essentially a drone that someone can sit in. And if that sounds pretty precarious, that’s because it is. The company - Cartivator Resource Management (opens in new tab) - had a trial flight recently that they invited The Associated Press (opens in new tab) to, and you can see the results of this test below:

So, yeah, it's probably fair to say that we’re a way off seeing people ‘driving’ around in these vehicles. The plan on Cartivator’s official website has a schedule planned all the way to 2050, where it claims it will: “Realize a world where anyone can fly in the sky anytime and anywhere.”

The plan also mentions the vehicles being commercially available in 2023, with mass production starting in 2030. While that may sound quite ambitious, it’s an interesting proposition for this new type of flying ‘car’.

There are already a few ‘flying cars’ in development, and they all follow the format of 'half car, half something else'. The Aeromobil is half car half plane, and the PAL-V is half car half helicopter. This new model is half car, half drone.

One of the main drawbacks from actual people being able to own a flying car is that in order to fly one, you’ll (unsurprisingly) need a pilot's licence, so in order for it to succeed, we’ll either have to see a lot of people learning to fly, or a massive development in machine learning in flight. 

If it is used for the opening ceremony it begs the question: flaming torch on the outside of the vehicle where it could blow out or on the inside where it could set fire to everything? We're glad we're not the ones making that decision.

Andrew London is a writer at Velocity Partners. Prior to Velocity Partners, he was a staff writer at Future plc.