When taxis fly...
A California-based company is working to make that happen. But the secretive Joby Aviations isn't sharing when its five-seater all-electric passenger plane will move from prototype to viable air taxi.
But it's moving to pre-production thanks to a new injection of cash announced Thursday from various investors including JetBlue's and Toyota's new venture arms.
The $100 million in new funding could mean the electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft could soon be taking commuters to work above the traffic jams and train delays below. But realistically its short-haul flights won't be happening anytime soon.
The company is still working on the product — the plane claims to have a 150-mile range on a single battery charge and a nearly silent flight experience along with a 100 times quieter take-off and landing — and needs to get flight certified by the Federal Aviation Administration. So with its new money, Joby will be hiring engineers, battery experts, software developers, and flight control experts.
The race for take-off is on with future VTOL flights coming from Uber who is working with several companies including, Aurora Flight Sciences, Pipistrel Aircraft, Embraer, Mooney and Bell Helicopter, along with ChargePoint to make it happen by 2020. Making the vertical flights run on battery makes for a cleaner, quieter, and more sustainable ride.
Germany-based Lilium already is test-flying its two-seater electric jet and also has a five-seater VTOL plane prototype like Joby.
Airbus plans to start test rides by the end of the year on self-flying electric taxis and eventually set up a flying taxi service.
"When taxis fly" is looking less pie-in-the-sky. But no one's talking about how much it'll cost to take a flight to work just to avoid rush-hour traffic.