Concept: California-based Joby Aviation (Joby) has developed an electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft to serve as an airtaxi. The aircraft has been designed to offer rides via an urban mobility service as well as provide a faster, cleaner, and smarter way to transport people.

Nature of Disruption: Joby’s aircraft has half a dozen propellers, each with a diameter of more than six feet. Four propellers protrude from the craft’s wing and two more from its v-shaped tail. It is expected to have a range of 150 miles and a top speed of 200 mph. The propellers of the aircraft can tilt, responsible for take-off and vertical landing movement. It can accommodate four passengers and one pilot on board. The pilot can fly the craft using two control sticks called inceptors. It does not have rudder pedals, which a pilot uses in a conventional helicopter to adjust which direction the nose is pointed. Since redundancy is a crucial factor to any aircraft, Joby ensures that if one system fails, another will easily step in to fill the void. The eVTOL’s propulsion system is based on a distributed network of electric motors, inverters, and batteries. Each propeller is powered by two engines, each of which is powered by its inverter. Even if the company asserts the craft’s stability and dependability, there are certain noise concerns. According to Joby, while helicopters create a distinct chopping noise when their powerful rotors slash through the air, this machine’s sound signature is more akin to the wind in the forest.

Outlook: Joby aspires to offer aerial ridesharing service with the ease of traditional ridesharing with the power of flight. The air taxi service could be a green alternative to driving which is bookable with an app. But before Joby can start commuting passengers through the skies, the company seeks to receive the aircraft approval from the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration). Joby is presently engaged in a multi-year testing program with the FAA to certify the eVTOL for commercial operations and aims to begin offering the service by 2024. So while the vision of an airtaxi service using clean energy sources could be true soon, there’s no guarantee that the timeline will keep up in reality.

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