Toyota Motor is backing a group of young employees who have been voluntarily working on a project to develop a flying car.

The project, led by a group called Cartivator started in 2012 when project leader Tsubasa Nakamura won a business contest. Its members, numbering 30 over give their time voluntarily to work on the project, the Nikkei Asian Review said.

The car maker is not the only one backing the group. Cartivator has also received support from two other people - Masafumi Miwa, a drone expert and associate professor of mechanical engineering at Tokushima University and Taizo Son, the founder of GungHo Online Entertainment, a Japanese online video game developer.

Cartivator, which has so far been reliant on crowdfunding and other means to finance its activity, will receive 40m yen (£274,00, $353,00) from the car maker.

Prototype ready by end 2018

A prototype ready for a manned test flight is expected by the end of 2018, with a target to commercialise a flying car in 2020, to fall in conjunction with the Olympics being hosted in Tokyo, the Nikkei Asian Review reported.

This however, is not the first time that the flying car idea has been mooted.

At the Top Marques supercar show in Monaco in April, the world's first commercially-available flying car was unveiled. The car, called Flying Car is by Slovakian company AeroMobil. The company claims that the vehicle is able to transform from a car to an aeroplane in less than three minutes and can travel either 700km (435 miles) on the road or 750km in the air at 75% of its top speed.

And PAL-V International has started the commercial sales of its two-seater hybrid vehicle in February with production expected to star this summer. The £255,000 twin-engine vehicle can hit nearly 100mph on the road or up to 112mph in the air.

The Nikkei Asian Review noted that Larry Page, the co-founder of Google is backing Kitty Hawk, a UK startup that hopes to commercialise the Flyer.

Airbus, on the other hand plans to start test flights of a flying car in 2017 while Uber Technologies has already announced in April plans for flying taxi services.