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WATCH: Toyota on track to develop first ever Olympics-bound flying car

A GROUP of 30 volunteers are working with Toyota on a project to develop the world’s smallest flying car in anticipation of the 2020 Olympic Summer Games due to take place in Tokyo.

The project, called Cartivator, conducted in partnership with Cartivator Resource Management, has a specific mission in mind – the flying car will be the automaker’s contribution to the 2020 Tokyo Games and is tasked with lighting the Olympic flame. It’s a wonderfully odd and distinctly Japanese twist on the decades-old tradition, and could very well outshadow Barcelona’s 1992 arrow-lit cauldron.

Despite the fact the project is largely powered by volunteers, Toyota has invested JPY40 million (around US$350,000) for the project, which some critics have pointed out is a laughably small amount for one of the biggest companies in the world. In comparison, Cartivator’s contributions have come from donors and through crowdfunding campaigns.

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From what can be gleaned from the video footage, the car appears to be just a basic square scaffold now, attached to rotors and an engine. Overall, the lack of resources for the project is evident – the bare-bones effort can barely lift itself off the ground, and even then for only a few seconds at a time.

According to Cartivator, the short-term view of the project includes plans to refine the basic design and load a pilot into the vehicle by 2019. Whether or not the team will be able to achieve their goal remains to be seen. The project has been in the works for several years now, and the team will be working on a tight schedule – after all, 2020 is not far off.

The project might be particularly significant for Toyota though, signalling why the company took an interest in the first place. Toyota has been working on expanding its offerings of transportation options to include alternative vehicles powered by renewable energy, as well as more off-the-beaten-track takes on luxury yachts.

Who knows, maybe we’ll all be zooming around in flying cars in the next few years.