DREAMS Akihiro Mizutani

Sky mobility becomes
much more accessible:
Honda eVTOL

Akihiro Mizutani

Honda R&D, Advanced Technology Research Institute, New Mobility Division
Joined Honda as a new graduate in 2011, then went to work on jet engine development at a heavy industry manufacturer. Later, co-founded a startup engaged in personal eVTOL development. With the desire to play a more active role in the societal implementation of eVTOLs, rejoined Honda in 2020 and is involved in the development of eVTOL aircraft.

Hi Mr. Mizutani, what is your dream?

My dream is creating a new type of aircraft. Someday, I would like to take my grandchildren on a new plane and boast of it with saying, ‘I made this.’

What is the driving force behind your dream?

I simply love aircraft.

Since I began to want to create aircraft when I was 20 years of age, I have thought that I would want to make a compact aircraft that allows individuals to move rather than a large plane.

This was simply because I thought that it seemed more fun to fly freely in the sky. eVTOL may not be an aircraft that allows one to navigate; however, it allows one to move to the location to which he or she wants to move, whenever it is desired, and more freely, instead of moving together with hundreds of people getting on a jumbo jet. In this way, I believe that eVTOL would be a more attractive vehicle both for me and throughout the world.

I would be pleased if the aircraft itself as well as the act of flying could be much more familiar to everyone.

I imagined that I would study aircraft at university, join a company that creates such things, accumulate my experiences, and manufacture a plane eventually. However, in reality, I specialized in machinery at university (I was unable to pass test to enter the faculty of aerospace engineering (laugh)). After graduation from my university, I developed a car because I could not belong to the department dealing with aircraft at first. I thought that this had not been what I wanted. Therefore, I started to develop an engine for aircraft in a different company. Nevertheless, I wanted to develop not only the machine’s engine but also the aircraft itself, so I and my partners established a start-up company at which I began to create these items. At this company, I thought it would be difficult to create an aircraft that would allow many people to board it. Therefore, by turn of a fate, I have returned to Honda, and I am now making eVTOL right here. When I determine my dream, I did not at all expect that I would be able to go to a place where I could do what I wanted to by way of the aforementioned career path. However, I never gave up. I always wanted to do this, no matter what, and thought through various ways to make my dream come true. As a result, fortunately, I am now in a place where I may be able to achieve my goals. My experience with cars, engines, and startup is rather my strength, and all of my experiences have helped me in my current job.

Did you confront any difficulties on the way to achieving your dream?

There were some unknown causes that slowed progress. Honestly, I felt that I could not achieve it. However, when I saw people around me never give up and restart their efforts again and again, I gained the inspiration not to give up, either. In this way, I found a superior means of solution and managed to overcome difficult situations.

I thought that I could not go on any more at many times. When I remember this with the thought “I cannot do this anymore,” I would go look at the ocean in my car alone and I would take deep breaths after a while. After that, when I returned, all my partners restarted operations, pouring their hearts and souls into the efforts again. When I saw them struggling with problems, I was inspired over and over. My feeling of “never giving up” had returned. Similar incidents took place several times. eVTOL is so totally different from current aircraft that existing common sense about what aircraft does not apply to eVTOL in many cases. In this regard, there are many people who are involved in areas other than aircraft at Honda, such as automobiles, motorbikes, and power equipment. I find it difficult yet fascinating to solve problems together with using everyone’s wisdom.

What is your next challenge?

My next challenge would be to bring about the experience of boarding the aircraft and making it familiar to everyone. I would like to establish a society in which anyone would be able get on aircraft in the same way as if they were taking a taxi right now. In order to make such society, I would like to create a perfectly beautiful aircraft from now on. People can have many choices to live and work. When it comes to Japan alone, I believe that the concept of locality will disappear. Workers do not have to commute because they are working online now. On the other hand, I think that opportunities for people to come to actual places to touch things and meet people somehow will not vanish.

When people are able to quickly and inexpensively move from locations closer to their homes to locations closer to the destinations at which they wish to be, the difficulty of moving will be greatly reduced, and living far away will become much less of an issue. If this were to become the case, the concept of centers of cities and local regions would increasingly disappear, and the choice of where to live and work would be easier to make that it now is.

eVTOL is still in the experimental trial stage, and thus, I would like to make completely achieve eVTOL and release it throughout the world in actuality. I want to create a total system that includes all aspects of aircraft, such as the ways to run the vehicle, deal with surrounding areas, and handle operation systems.