Toyota hover car: Could this be the future of cars?

Toyota engineers are working on developing a hover car, managing officer Hiroyoshi Yoshiki says. The project is underway at one of Toyota's "most advanced" research and development areas.

Kacper Pempel/Reuters/File
A Toyota logo is seen in a showroom at a Toyota dealership in Warsaw. Toyota engineers are working on developing a hover car.

If you asked a guy in the 1960s what he thought we'd be driving today, he'd probably think about what he'd seen in a popular TV science-fiction show of the time and say "a hover car". But 1960s guy would probably be a little disappointed that what people are actually driving are cars that look a bit like his mid-60s Mustang but a thousand pounds heavier.

Somewhere inside Toyota there's a team of engineers who still have that 1960s innocence, as Toyota managing officer Hiroyoshi Yoshiki has just revealed the company is working on a real-life hover car, or at least investigating the potential. According to The Verge (via Jalopnik), the project is underway at one of Toyota's "most advanced" research and development areas.

Unfortunately, we're not going to have something approximating the Jetsons' car, nor even Luke Skywalker's speeder any time soon. The car won't so much be hovering in free space as "a little bit away" from the road. This is more likely to mean microns than inches, but the aim is to reduce road friction. Without turning the car into a giant aircraft wing this probably isn't a simple process, as friction is rather important to a car's ability to go, stop and corner. And losing contact with the road entirely needs lots of energy and usually lots of speed, too—think jet aircraft, rather than a Toyota Yaris.

Yoshiki, speaking at Bloomberg's Next Big Thing Summit in San Francisco, wouldn't elaborate further on the company's ideas, so it's unknown how close such an idea is to reality. Nor did he reveal how long Toyota has worked on the idea—so we're not expecting flying Priuses any time soon...

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