The single-seater SkyDrive SD-03 doesn't have wheels, however the manufacturer insists it is a car.
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A “flying car" built by Japanese developer SkyDrive has been publicly demonstrated for the first time.

The SD-03 vehicle is powered by eight independent electric motors and has been in development since 2014.

While no one can dispute its sound aeronautical capabilities, the vehicle’s status as a “car” remains slightly more controversial – this prototype doesn’t even have wheels, meaning it is less manoeuvrable on the ground than most planes.

In fact, the SD-03 is more like a large drone that can carry one person, than a flying car.

Until now, other so-called experimental "flying cars" – such as those tested in the US – have been light aircraft that can fold their wings and be driven a short distance on public roads at modest speeds.

Nevertheless, the Japanese manufacturer is adamant the SD-03 a “flying car”.

A spokesperson for SkyDrive told CarAdvice "before developing a prototype model with wheels, [we] would like to ensure that the incredibly difficult flight function is achieved as a first step".

"[We] aim at driving function from late 2020."

SkyDrive is sponsored by Toyota, and the most recent test took place at the brand's 10,000 square metre test field.

Taking off in the early evening, the vehicle circled the site for about four minutes.

A pilot was directly in control of the flight's altitude, pitch, and steering, however stability was managed by an onboard computer system.

The SkyDrive spokesman confirmed to CarAdvice the company is "targeting the launch of a commercial manned air mobility service in 2023".

However, don't expect to see the product in Australia anytime soon.

"We believe that we can add more value in places like Japan and Asia, where the land is small and it is difficult to land and take off from," the spokesperson added.

The notion of flying cars has long been heralded as the pinnacle of technological advancement, however few practical examples have ever been produced.

In 1917 aviator Glenn Curtiss unveiled the first serious attempt at such a vehicle. His aluminium Autoplane was powered by a four-bladed propeller at the rear.

The Aerocar, which was designed and built by inventor Molt Taylor, was successfully flown in 1949 (pictured below).

The vehicle never went into production however, and just six examples were built.

Watch the flight below, and tell us what you think in the comments.