Flying Car from teTra

Flying Car Transforms Society with the Help of MBSE


Why a University-Derived eVTOL Venture Focused on MBSE

Do you ever sit in traffic and wish you could go around it–or above it? Today, people are increasingly looking to the prospect of flying cars to address social problems such as traffic congestion in urban areas and transporting people and goods to mountainous areas or remote islands. While major automobile and aircraft manufacturers around the world are entering the market one after another, one university-derived start-up company is stepping into this increasingly competitive market.

The “Flying Car” is No Longer Just a Fantasy

What springs to mind when you think about future mobility? The first thing that many people probably imagine is a George Jetson-esque flying car. The day when the world of science fiction cartoons and movies becomes a reality will be here before you know it. Right now, many companies around the world are looking to develop flying cars. Everyone from major automakers and aircraft manufacturers to start-up companies launched by engineers hailing from manufacturing and even some IT companies wants to stake a claim on the highway in the sky.

The most realistic practical application of the flying car is the electric vertical take-off and landing aircraft (eVTOL). The eVTOL doesn’t require a large-scale runway or large area for take-off or landing because it takes off and lands vertically. This nimble design allows it to maneuver around urban areas as freely as a car. Japan is already developing safety standards and license laws to facilitate the practical use of eVTOL in 2023.

University-Derived Start-Up Rises to the Challenge

In the face of increasing global competition, one university-derived start-up is taking on the challenge to develop its own eVTOL aircraft. That company is teTra aviation. Company president, Mr. Tasuku Nakai, started developing eVTOL when studying for his doctorate at the University of Tokyo. Within three short years, he participated in the Boeing-sponsored GoFly international contest for developing personal-use aircraft and won an award from over 800 participating teams.

Man sitting next to a flying car
teTra president, Tasuku Nakai, in front of the GoFly prize-winning Mk-3 aircraft

Since becoming the first Japanese company to obtain an eVTOL test flight permit from the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration, teTra has been steadily building a flying track record in preparation for the practical application of eVTOL. Their approach to manufacturing is pure and passionate. As a child, Mr. Nakai had a strong desire to get quickly from A to B, which became his inspiration. Later, he channeled that inspiration into developing a personal eVTOL for one or two passengers. His aim was to eliminate inconvenient barriers to transport people smoothly. Currently, teTra is developing a craft that seeks to “enable faster, safer, and freer movement in a sky without traffic jams” to solve problems related to traffic jams and train congestion in urban areas as well as passenger and goods transport links to rural areas.

“It will be easier to develop urban areas if our flying cars become popular. They have the power to change the world if we can encourage their broad use,” explains Mr. Nakai. The concept of teTra’s latest Mk-5 aircraft, a single-seater eVTOL that can fly 100 km in 30 minutes, is to realize the design of an aircraft with a high safety performance that even first-time users can pilot comfortably. The initial target for the craft will be the U.S. market’s 200,000 aircraft license holders. teTra will start accepting sales orders from the end of July 2021 for delivery in 2022 and aims to move to mass production in 2025.

Flying Car from teTra
teTra’s latest Mk-5 aircraft. The actual aircraft was exhibited at EAA Air Venture Oshkosh 2021, one of the world’s largest aircraft exhibitions, in July 2021.

MBSE Helps Make the Flying Car a Reality

teTra uses Zuken Vitech’s GENESYS, a model-based systems engineering (MBSE) solution, in its eVTOL development. The aerospace industry was first to adopt the systems engineering approach that forms the basis of MBSE, so using it for this application makes complete sense. That is because a systems engineering approach can formulate a comprehensive view of all component elements that are vital to the development of complex systems. These systems link multiple technological areas–from machinery to electricity, software, and ergonomics, and especially to the development of products–that all must meet particularly high safety standards.

MBSE is attracting attention as a solution that utilizes models to achieve these requirements and enables consistent and efficient verification. Knowing that MBSE will become an absolute necessity going forward, teTra quickly homed in on its effectiveness and decided to implement GENESYS to help master and operate their systems engineering approach to design.

Four engineers with a flying car
(Left to right) Sotaro Takei (Zuken), Koya Kuwamura (teTra engineer), Tasuku Nakai (teTra president), and Hiromichi Inaishi (Zuken division manager)

Looking ahead, MBSE is expected to play an essential role as a tool that will facilitate the development and mass production of crewed eVTOL aircraft by verifying system safety and enhancing communication between engineers. Just as it is proving vital to the development of flying cars, the concept of systems engineering will become equally indispensable to next-generation manufacturing that seeks to work in harmony with the complex systems that form our social environment. At Zuken, we believe it is our duty to provide the solutions to help shape the future of design and manufacturing. We are committed to using GENESYS and all of the tools in our portfolio to help realize a sustainable society and support the challenges of young engineers, just like the ones at teTra.

Amy Clements
Amy Clements
Director of Marketing Communications
Amy is the Director of Marketing Communications in North America. Her role includes advertising, public relations, event management, social media, and more. She thrives on managing complex projects, especially when there is an opportunity to interact with customers. In her spare time, she and her family enjoy traveling.