A whole lot of money is being pumped into air taxi concepts, with the likes of Boeing, Airbus and NASA all investing heavily in these types of vehicles. The latest company to find themselves on the receiving end is Joby Aviation, with US$100 million in fresh funding to forge ahead with its all-electric aircraft.
We first learned of Joby's multirotor convertible aircraft in 2015, and have visited the company's compound since to see it under construction. This thing is no joke. It uses a sophisticated, custom-designed tilt system that points the rotors upward for vertical takeoff and landing, but rotates them forward for low-energy forward flight as a winged aircraft.
The convenience of VTOL, with the huge hourly flight cost reduction of electric powertrains, plus the range advantages of a fixed wing; it's a compelling concept. Our own Loz Blain dropped by Joby's headquarters, and although the design has evolved significantly since these images first came out, he left with the firm belief that this vehicle is absolutely happening.
Appearing to share that belief are a host of new investors, led by Intel and including Toyota, who have handed Joby US$100 million in Series B funding to continue development of its aircraft, which it now says has been flight-tested. Just like other air taxi concepts, such as the Intel-backed Volocopter, Passenger Drone, Vahana and eHang, Joby hopes to cut down on traffic and pollution in urban centers, and offer city folk a faster, cleaner and safer way to travel.
It says its five-seater aircraft will fly more than 150 mi (240 km) on each charge, travel faster than existing rotorcraft and be 100 times quieter than conventional aircraft during takeoff and landing. The upfront cost will be higher than a typical combustion plane or helicopter, but Joby reckons this will be recouped over time, because its aircraft can cover the same distance at one twentieth the cost in terms of energy.
Joby says for now it is solely focused on the development of the vehicle across three key areas: equipping it with unparalleled safety through redundant systems, minimizing the noise and optimizing the range and speed.
"Intel believes the future of transportation is data-driven – whether you're talking about autonomous cars or next-generation air travel," said Wendell Brooks, president, Intel Capital. "Joby Aviation has been laser-focused on delivering a unique vehicle into the market. This is a truly disruptive technology with the potential to push the geographic boundaries of where people can live and work."
Source: Joby Aviation
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