We’re this close to flying cars that’ll ‘save billion people an hour a day’
US company says it will roll out its first conforming aircraft next year, after which all it needs is nod to operate
The US’s Joby Aviation is locking up leases on rooftops where its mosquito-looking machines will land as early as 2024. The commute as envisioned by The Jetsons is finally nigh, though the rigs coming from Joby and its rivals are decidedly un-carlike. Able to take off and land vertically, they’re a lot like helicopters, only safer, cheaper and far quieter, thanks to a cluster of small electric rotors on a fixed wing, allowing the craft to fly (and glide) horizontally. If one of the fans fails, the remainder can mitigate a disaster.
The flying taxi industry is crowded, with several companies testing machines that approximate giant, people-carrying drones, including manufacturing giants such as Hyundai and start-ups, among them Lilium. Joby has been at it for 12 years. Over that time, it has landed about $100m (about R1,5bn) in venture funding. In August, the company went public via a SPAC backed by LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman. The pitch to passengers and prospective investors: save a billion people an hour a day.
We sat down with Joby founder and CEO Joe Ben Bevirt to talk about his plans to make sky taxis as cheap as ground taxis and his company’s greatest coup: a five-passenger aircraft that sounds like the ocean...