Yamato Holdings Co. said Friday it has agreed to jointly develop an unmanned cargo aircraft with Bell Helicopter Textron Inc. of the United States, aiming to launch the "flying truck" by mid-2020s amid a labor shortage in the logistics industry.

Yamato said it will develop the cargo container, while Bell will build the body of the autonomous aircraft, which will take off and land vertically and cruise horizontally.

[Photo courtesy of Bell Helicopter]

The vehicle is expected to carry cargo weighing up to 453 kilograms at 160 kilometers per hour.

Japanese logistics companies are keen to introduce cutting-edge technologies such as robots and drones to address a shortage of delivery staff and enhance business efficiency.

In a related move, the Japanese government has begun discussions with private businesses on the practical use of flying cars, aiming to commercialize them in the 2020s.

Such vehicles are expected to help ease traffic jams in urban areas and be used in mountainous areas and remote islands as well as in the event of natural disasters.