Visions of autonomous, passenger drones flitting across futuristic cityscapes are still riding a fine line between reality and sci-fi. However, with companies such as EHang and Sikorsky leading the charge, that future may be closer than we think; but the first, aerial baby steps towards a real-world, air taxi service will likely take the form of manned flights.
Enter Joby Aviation. The California company specializing in all-electric aircraft this week announced a partnership with REEF Technology and Neighborhood Property Group to develop takeoff and landing sites for its developing aerial ridesharing service
As the largest American parking garage operator, REFF is well positioned to provide future air-taxis—manned or unmanned—with urban landing pads. NPG would fill in the blanks by acquiring the needed mobility hubs.
Welcome to the Skyport
The partnership will give Joby exclusive access to a number of rooftop skyport sites, focusing at first on Los Angeles, Miami, New York and San Francisco. Company officials envision a future where parking garages would offer skyports located near popular urban destinations—like convention centers and downtown venues—offering obstruction-free approach and departure paths that minimize noise.
“This is a landmark deal on Joby’s path to building a transformational ridesharing service in our skies,” said JoeBen Bevirt, founder and CEO at Joby Aviation. “NPG and REEF have an unbeatable network of sites across the US and we’re excited to be working with them to identify sites that will become the backbone of our future service.
“Parking structures are ideal locations for us as they allow us to deliver our customers as close to their destination as possible, while minimizing any local impact and reducing the need for building new infrastructure.”
Philippe Saint-Just, co-founder of REEF, said: “With our focus on transforming urban spaces into community hubs that enable the future of mobility, aerial ridesharing is a compelling opportunity for us to decarbonize travel and make better use of structures such as parking garages.
“We’re thrilled to work with Joby to bring this transformational electric aerial mobility to life, and to help realize its potential for cities and their neighborhoods.”
Ride-sharing the sky
Joby’s envisioned air-passenger service would be app-based, offering riders an emissions-free, manned air trip for distances between 5-150 miles, bypassing typical urban congestion. The recent agreement cements Joby’s presence as a major player in the growing sphere of aerial taxi services. Last year, Joby acquired Uber Elevate, Uber’s urban air mobility (UAM) initiative, while also attracting more than $800 million of funding.
Urban Air Mobility
Urban Air Mobility is poised to become a key transportation buzzword of the 2020s. In Colombia, Varon Vehicles is building just such a UAM network after announcing a partnership with Jaunt Air Mobility.
Last month, drone-passenger leader EHang announced the launch of a new electric, autonomous aerial vehicle designed for inter-city transportation. The publicly-traded Chinese company is also developing aerial tourism in China, and extensive pilot programs in Korea and Europe.
Jason is a longstanding contributor to DroneLife with an avid interest in all things tech. He focuses on anti-drone technologies and the public safety sector; police, fire, and search and rescue.
Beginning his career as a journalist in 1996, Jason has since written and edited thousands of engaging news articles, blog posts, press releases and online content.
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