According to a new report, Joby Aviation Inc. has made some serious progress in its goal to produce the world's first autonomous flying taxis since it first launched 9 years ago. Although a description of the company's current prototype is still being kept tightly under wraps, the prototype itself reportedly works. That's good news for anybody that's been following the progress of autonomous technologies and sky-bound transportation.
Despite a general lack of detail about the autonomous flying vehicle itself, company CEO JoeBen Bevirt was able to provide at least some information about the current status of the project and plans for the end result. Unfortunately, that doesn't include any kind of timeline for when the vehicles will begin to be in use. That's most likely a good thing since the systems involved in creating a direct Uber and Lyft competitor which is not intrinsically anchored to the ground is a complex process and rushing its development could be disastrous. However, Bevirt was able to say that the cost of using his company's service, once completed, will actually be comparable to taking an Uber or Lyft. It'll also be much faster in most cases and, as already mentioned, fully automated in order to cut costs associated with hiring or training pilots. That will also help keep the vehicles efficient since they will be able to adjust flight to take the most efficient routes. Meanwhile, the vehicles will be able to move up to four people at around at once, moving at twice the speed of a helicopter, with massive reductions in terms of noise and a range of around 150 miles.
With regard to the company itself, Joby Aviation has also announced a new win in terms of venture funding. Specifically, the company has, as of February 1, raised another $100 million in funds for its project. That comes from some very prominent technology investors including Intel, Toyota, JetBlue, and Capricorn Investment Group – which also backs Tesla and Space Exploration Technologies. Intel, in particular, has expressed genuine support of the progress Joby has made. One Intel exec has gone so far as to say that the company is already far ahead of every other startup or organization it has seen trying to enter the air taxi space. The continued funding has also allowed for growth in the number of employees working to make the project a reality – moving the company from around 35 people to over 120. So it seems that the dream of taking to the air for even the most mundane of trips may actually be a thing sooner rather than later.