Joby is the first company to commit to Uber’s 2023 launch of its air taxi service.
Rideshare group Uber and electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft developer Joby Aviation have announced a partnership to launch urban air-taxi services in selected locations from 2023. California-based Joby Aviation has become the first of seven partner companies in Uber’s Elevate urban air mobility initiative to commit to a timetable for launching operations. The other companies are Bell, Boeing subsidiary Aurora Flight Sciences, Embraer, Pipistrel, Karem Aircraft, and Jaunt Air Mobility. Uber has named Dallas, Los Angeles, and Melbourne as prospective launch cities, but the logistics of deploying its air taxi fleet remain underdeveloped.
Related: Uber Provides Details on its Air Pilot Program in Melbourne
Joby is developing a four-seat eVTOL aircraft called the S4 and appears to have plans for a larger S5 model. The covert aircraft development team has mentioned a complete full-scale prototype of the S4, but otherwise has kept plans for certification and manufacturing expansion under wraps. The few publicized renderings show a plane-drone hybrid with 12 rotors and room in the cabin for four passengers, though a spokesperson previously cautioned that what Joby is working on now is “entirely new.” The company has yet to provide any recent photographs or images of its prototype aircraft; however, all public information about Joby’s developments are can be found in the TransportUP Hangar.
Joby is the brainchild of inventor JoeBen Bevirt, who started the company in 2009. The company operated in relative obscurity until 2018, when Joby announced it had raised a surprising $100 million from a variety of investors, including the venture capital arms of Intel, Toyota, and JetBlue. The money helped finance development of the company’s air taxi prototype, which has been conducting test flights at Joby’s private airfield in Northern California.
JoeBen Bevirt had the following to say about the partnership:
We’re excited to partner with Uber. By bringing our next-generation aircraft and urban flight operations to Uber’s on-demand ground mobility network, we aim to get people to their destinations five-times faster than driving, reduce urban congestion and accelerate the shift to sustainable modes of transit.
Why it’s important: While Uber has performed considerable research and development on its own eVTOL prototype for the future air taxi service, it will ultimately rely on the consistent manufacturing technologies of a specialized airframer to provide and maintain vehicles. The demands of operating a transportation service are far greater than would allow for a single company to simultaneously develop its own aviation technologies. Therefore, Joby Aviation is slated to fill this important role, and has committed to support the aggressive timetable of a 2023 launch.
Source // AINOnline; The Verge