It’s no flying DeLorean, but it’s a start.
Japanese automobile manufacturer Toyota is investigating the possibility of flying cars, according to Toyota’s technical administration group managing officer Hiroyoshi Yoshiki, who spoke at Bloomberg’s Next Big Thing Summit in San Francisco on Monday, The Verge reports.
Research into cars capable of hovering just above the road for improved efficiency is being conducted at one of Toyota’s “most advanced” research and development areas. Yoshiki said Toyota’s aim isn’t as ambitious as flying around in three dimensional space, but is geared toward lifting a car ”a little bit away” from the road to reduce friction.
Yoshiki did not reveal when research began, its current status, or potential for entering the mass market.
The managing officer appeared on stage alongside U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration head David Friedman to discuss the future of self-driving cars following Google’s prototype debut last month.
Friedman said Google’s autonomous vehicle, complete without a steering wheel or pedals, is a ”great taste of innovations to come,” but touted other safety focused technologies designed to prevent lane drifting and accidents, which will hit the market sooner.