Aircraft

Joby Aviation to put eVTOL vertiports on top of multi-story car parks

Joby Aviation to put eVTOL ver...
Joby seems poised to dominate the early stages of the eVTOL market, with an excellent aircraft and strong positions in manufacturing, certification, customer service, finance and now ground-based infrastructure
Joby seems poised to dominate the early stages of the eVTOL market, with an excellent aircraft and strong positions in manufacturing, certification, customer service, finance and now ground-based infrastructure
View 8 Images
Joby seems poised to dominate the early stages of the eVTOL market, with an excellent aircraft and strong positions in manufacturing, certification, customer service, finance and now ground-based infrastructure
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Joby seems poised to dominate the early stages of the eVTOL market, with an excellent aircraft and strong positions in manufacturing, certification, customer service, finance and now ground-based infrastructure
The Joby aircraft's six rotors all tilt forward in a vectored thrust configuration to achieve high-speed horizontal winged flight
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The Joby aircraft's six rotors all tilt forward in a vectored thrust configuration to achieve high-speed horizontal winged flight
Joby has completed more than a thousand test flights around its idyllic location in the Santa Cruz hills
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Joby has completed more than a thousand test flights around its idyllic location in the Santa Cruz hills
Test flights have been unmanned thus far
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Test flights have been unmanned thus far
eVTOL aircraft like this five-seater from Joby Aviation will be vastly quieter and cheaper than helicopters – so we can expect to see them flood our skies in much greater numbers over the coming decades
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eVTOL aircraft like this five-seater from Joby Aviation will be vastly quieter and cheaper than helicopters – so we can expect to see them flood our skies in much greater numbers over the coming decades
Joby's eVTOL, like others in the class, burns a lot of battery power in hover mode, and can only realize its impressive range figures once in horizontal flight supported by wings
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Joby's eVTOL, like others in the class, burns a lot of battery power in hover mode, and can only realize its impressive range figures once in horizontal flight supported by wings
The Joby eVTOL aircraft during unmanned flight testing in California
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The Joby eVTOL aircraft during unmanned flight testing in California
Under the stars: Joby's five-seat eVTOL aircraft is at the vanguard of a quiet, clean urban mobility transformation
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Under the stars: Joby's five-seat eVTOL aircraft is at the vanguard of a quiet, clean urban mobility transformation
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Joby Aviation plans to run its own eVTOL air taxi services in the US, and it's now working to vastly expand its take-off and landing options, signing new partnerships that will let it put vertiports on top of multi-story car parks across America.

Helicopters are expensive and noisy. Thus, while they're a reasonably common sight in the skies, they represent a very tiny fraction of urban travel, and heliports are pretty rare. Electric VTOL air taxis will be much, much cheaper and quieter – they represent a radical democratization of VTOL transport, and the goal of the entire nascent urban air mobility industry is to put thousands of these things in the sky above every major city.

So while eVTOLs are expected to make use of the existing infrastructure as they get started, things are going to need to ramp up extremely fast on the ground when the sector starts to take off. And while it'll be sensible for some companies to buy some land and build the odd vertiport – like Lilium's planned facilities for inter-city eVTOL travel across Florida – companies focusing on cross-town urban transport will need access to prime real estate throughout major cities.

eVTOL aircraft like this five-seater from Joby Aviation will be vastly quieter and cheaper than helicopters – so we can expect to see them flood our skies in much greater numbers over the coming decades
eVTOL aircraft like this five-seater from Joby Aviation will be vastly quieter and cheaper than helicopters – so we can expect to see them flood our skies in much greater numbers over the coming decades

The opportunity for multi-story car park operators is enormous. They already own the perfect locations – within walking distance of where people are going en masse. They've got vast rooftop space available, often mostly unused, and the buildings are structurally designed to hold bulk weight already. They've also got elevators for easy access, and let's just say car parking and vehicle access are generally not a problem.

Today, the first official eVTOL/car park collaboration has been signed between Joby Aviation and car park operator Reef Technology, which owns more than 5,000 sites in "all key metropolitan areas in the US." The partnership intends to turn car parks into "mobility hubs," places where cross-town and inter-city eVTOL flights can connect with public transport, ride-sharing operations, micro-mobility options like scooters and ebikes, and car parking for what's expected to be a shrinking number of people that actually bother owning their own vehicles.

"Through the partnership," reads a press release, "Joby gains access to an unparalleled range of rooftop locations across all key metropolitan areas in the US, as well as a mechanism to fund the acquisition and development of new skyport sites. The companies will focus initially on Los Angeles, Miami, and the New York and San Francisco Bay Area metropolitan areas." The agreement will also give Joby access to NPG, a real estate acquisition company affiliated with Reef, with a view to selecting future sites based on their air mobility potential.

Test flights have been unmanned thus far
Test flights have been unmanned thus far

Under the terms of the deal, "Joby will enjoy a period of exclusivity during which it can secure long-term rooftop leases on skyport sites within NPG and REEF’s network of parking garages." Having already acquired Uber Elevate, Joby will be running its own passenger services through an app it's developing in-house, as well as through the Uber app – the two services will integrate with one another such that Ubers will handle first- and last-mile ground transport scheduled to connect perfectly with the aircraft. Joby will be offering eVTOL trips between 5-150 miles (8-240 km) in its five-seat, 200-mph (320-km/h) vectored thrust alien spaceship of an aircraft.

There will be challenges. Firstly, these car parks will need to be upgraded with beefy electrical systems capable of blast-charging the large batteries of eVTOL aircraft. But forward-looking car park operators are already putting more and more charge ports in to support the growing number of electric cars on the road.

More challenging will be the task of convincing aviation authorities to let eVTOLs fly over such heavily populated areas. Early air mobility operations may well spend most of their time flying over rivers, where if they fall out of the sky, only ducks and rowing teams (and passengers, to be fair) will be inconvenienced. Multi-story car parks are located exactly where you find pedestrians in bulk, and the FAA will rightly take a cautious approach.

Under the stars: Joby's five-seat eVTOL aircraft is at the vanguard of a quiet, clean urban mobility transformation
Under the stars: Joby's five-seat eVTOL aircraft is at the vanguard of a quiet, clean urban mobility transformation

But Joby continues to make all the right moves to dominate the early years of the advanced air mobility market. It's got one of the best aircraft in the sector, which has already been built and test-flown over a thousand times. It's also working closely with the FAA on certification, with a former FAA acting administrator now on its board, and has already received the first eVTOL military airworthiness accreditation from the US Air Force.

It's poised to own the customer experience through its ownership of Uber Elevate, it's the most cashed-up eVTOL company we're aware of, and it's hitting the stock exchange to raise even more funds through a SPAC merger. It's received heavy investment through Toyota, and will leverage that partnership's obvious strength when it comes time to manufacture these machines in volume. This infrastructure partnership puts Joby yet further ahead of the game, with the chance to build a huge network of vertiports while the rest of the market plays catch-up. Expect plenty of similar announcements from the competition over the coming months.

Source: Joby Aviation

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6 comments
6 comments
paul314
Don't most multi-story car parks have full parking on top? (Albeit those spaces are generally less desirable because of heat). So at the very least there will have to be compensation for lost revenue. And more crowded streets around those locations, but that's a feature rather than a bug for an air taxi.
Towerman
An Excellent write up Loz i could not agree with your views more. Joby is at the forefront and is on a path that will make this revolution extraordinary exciting !
Arcticshade
Congratulations once again Joby ! The collaboration between Joby Aviation and car park Reef Technology will take the Evtol revolution to the next level. Exactly like you say, they are making all the right moves, one after the other with backing from Toyota when this market starts to explode into existence, they will have the manpower to expand exponentially !

I cannot wait to see the First Commercial Joby aircraft take flight ! !
jerryd
These multicopters are not the future as inherently not efficient from having many fast turning blades and blade tips. Vs a 2 rotor system with 4x the lift/kw not unlike the one on Mars that works in 1% of our atmosphere.
And since rooftop heliports are likely the way you can park 3x more 2 rotor units in the same space. Even taking off , landing the 2 rotor takes less space.
And dynamically stable, no computer needed. These will dominate 150 mile and less.
Over 150 mile STOL planes, Gyros, etc that can take off and land in 100' is the simple efficient low cost choice.
In EV aircraft you can't just give away 75% of your fuel/battery to prop losses and be viable. There is a reason helicopters have large 1-2 rotor/s that turn slowly.
KISS
Towerman
@jerryd
You clearly are not educated in multicopter technology and the latest composite blade construction techniques as well as extremely efficient Electric motor design.

A 2blade system has many mechanical components where losses occur not to mention it being a a maintenence nightmare.

No rooftop heliports cannot accomodate more than2 helicopters becaues of the massive rotor span of helicopters.

And taking off and landing requires more space because of its massive rotor.

Dynamically stable, Mechanically a nightmare, many parts that can break making it fall like a brick out of the sky.

In Multicopters, A computer takes away the mechanical headache and provides for virtually zero maintenence and great redundancy features, slow reacting helicopter rotor heads can only dream of.

Multicopters tested for over 10 years have proven to be solid and reliable and very cost effective compared to overly expensive helicopters only made for the very top rich.

EV's though elctronically complex is mechanically extremely simple, this allows for efficiency to be increase via fine tuning the software when you use aerodynamically efficient components.

Helicopters need slow moving parts as mechanically the whole thing is complex and inefficient.
MQ
Love the storm of opinions articles like this generate. Bring it on.... Let us all see if it wins or fails.

NB. Multistory carparks usually/often have cars parked on their roof - shade sails or not... people grossly under estimate space requirements for safe CIVILIAN operation of rotorcraft. Same with noise from upscaled Multicopters... Note. Operating an aerotaxi service is not the same as operating the flight deck of a marine helicarrier - FAA etc will have opinions, little different to all rotorcraft ops.

PS. Yes I do know about controls for multi-rotorcraft as well as fully rigid modern heads for helicopters - lower part count, in the end with aircraft, efficiency wins. (Direct drive electric; tandem or coax, helicopters will eat any multicopter performing the same task - large multiples of lifting units are unnecessary cost and weight for compromised efficiency)