Uber’s ambitious plans to start a public air taxi service got backing from a mysterious, well-sponsored startup. The taxi hailing company mentioned it would join forces with Joby Aviation, a California-based aerospace organisation which has been working on electric aviation for over 10 years. Joby is the first company to entrust with Uber’s aggressive timetable to launch their flying taxi service by 2023.
Joby is the brainchild of Joe Ben Bevirt, who first started the company back in 2009. The corporation ran in comparative darkness until 2018, which is when Joby announced it had collected an amazing $100 million through a range of sponsors, including the capital investment side of JetBlue, Toyota and Intel. The cash injection helped to finance the project development of the organisation’s new air taxi prototype that has been continuously running test flights at Joby’s private airfield in Northern California.
Unlike the many new organisations currently working on electric vertical take-off & landing (eVTOL) aircraft, Joby has kept most of its work hidden away behind closed doors. There are a few images out there, which show evidence of a drone-plane hybrid utilising 12 rotors &with room in the cab for four travellers, although a former employee confirmed that what Joby is now working on is something “entirely new altogether.” The company has yet to disclose any new images of its prototype aircraft.
“We were the first 2 reporters to see a prototype demo, known as Rachel (named after different women some of its designers used to date). The pilot successfully completed a vertical takeoff, 15 continuous minutes of direct flight around a 15 mile loop, followed by a safe landing. It is powered by electric motors and a highly sophisticated control software, the taxi works as a cross between a small plane and a drone, able to fly straight up at takeoff and then able to fly at twice the speed of a helicopter, whilst making a similar noise as what can only be described as a swarm of large bees. Bevirt stated “1000s of our sky taxis will one day transport people around cities, flying above the everyday traffic below.”
Uber has launched images of its concept air-taxi, although it did state it is searching for business partners that are able to build its new tech requirements with minimal noise, vertical landing and take-off abilities, electric-powered as well as a company with the capacity to develop and build tens of thousands of automobiles to continue the need for on-demand service of Uber.
Joby Aviation’s CEO, Bevirt, recently said that he believes air taxis will enable users to reach their destinations “5-times faster than they could by driving, reduce urban traffic and pollution and further increase the shift to more sustainable methods of transport.” He also said, in a recent statement, he was truly excited at the opportunity to be joining forces with Uber. Eric Allison, The head of Elevate, had great admiration for Joby as “a real new-age technology leader, whose green vehicles are designed to enable a safe, affordable and quiet service for Uber Air travellers.”