Toyota Considers A Flying Car, So Your Future Looks More And More Like 'Star Wars'

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As time marches on, the lines between science fiction and fact are blurring more and more, and now Toyota is thinking about making a flying car, sort of. The car wouldn't really "take off," so to speak, but simply levitate some small degree of distance off the surface of the road, so to reduce friction on working parts. The idea was mentioned by Hiroyoshi Yoshiki, Toyota's managing officer for their technical administration group, at the Bloomberg's Next Big Thing Summit in San Francisco Monday.

Answering an audience question, Yoshiki said that the company's research and development lab had worked on the possibility of a flying car. Would it be a hovercraft, asked James Temple of Re/Code? “It might be similar,” replied Yorshiki.

This isn't the only bit of convention-thwarting new research to be in the works for the automotive industry — Google's long-standing push to get self-driving cars on the road springs to mind. But, really, even that doesn't quite measure up to what would be the visible, visual shock of a car driving along with no wheels against the pavement.

It's also entirely unclear whether Toyota's grand ambition will ever come to fruition, as Yoshiki declined further comment on how long the project had been in consideration, how the technology has progressed, and whether it'll ever end up on the market.

If the technology sounds dramatic, impossible and cutting edge, that'll be because you're used to seeing hovercars in the context of sci-fi movies.

Since the 1977 release of Star Wars, however, the feasibility of this kind of transportation has increased dramatically. In fact, there's been a vehicle in development for a good six years now which already evokes the legacy of Luke Skywalker's humble landspeeder — the Aero-X hover vehicle.

Of course, the market for a traditional vehicle — a sedan with this sort of capability, let's say — could really take off in a way that a project like the Aero-X likely couldn't match. Between this news, Google's self-driving cars, and Nissan's prototype self-cleaning paint, the luckiest among us could someday have cars that float from place to place, spotlessly clean, and all without having to lift a finger. Well, except for the ignition. That could be a push-button.

If this all sounds a little intimidating, however, don't freak out yet — it's not as though advanced machines are dominating every facet of Toyota's ambitions. In fact, they're transitioning several of their factories in Japan back to human manufacturing, scrapping the robotic production lines used by virtually every other major car manufacturer.

So basically, humans still have a fighting chance! As long as we can keep churning out the advanced tech with our own hands.

Images: Star Wars/20th Century Fox,, The Jetsons/Time Warner,