There isn’t anything new in engineers and designers from automotive brands using their off-hours to develop a new model. Many great cars have been born as a result of such clandestine projects, the Jaguar XJ220 being one of the most well-known examples. So news about a group of nearly 30 Toyota employees working on a flying car in their after-hours didn’t attract much attention. But now, the project, known as Cartivator, has received a massive shot in the arm as none other than Toyota throwing its weight behind it. Early this week, the Japanese carmaker pledged 42.5 million yen (Dh1.38 million) to the project.

This investment will definitely pay off many times over for Toyota if Cartivator’s ambitious plan to get the flying car ready in time for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics materialises. That is, if all goes well, and the Olympic Flame is lit from the flying car, to be called Sky Drive. “This activity is an effort to make a dream vehicle, a flying car that gives dreams which connects to the next generation, with members spending time working outside office hours. Development continues daily to realise the lighting of the Olympic flame to give dreams and aspiration to people all over the world,” says Tsubasa Nakamura, Technical Lead at Cartivator.

The project has drone expert Professor Miwa Masafumi of Tokushima University as a lead collaborator and Mitsuhisa Kato, director of Toyota Motor Corporation as one of the advisors. Encouraged by the new injection of funds, the developers say they’re hopeful of completing a manned prototype vehicle by the end of 2018.