Toyota Takes Aim at Flying Taxis

By Talicia Marie Stewart

Akihabara News (Tokyo) — Toyota President and CEO Akio Toyoda has announced an investment of US$394 million into Joby Aviation and shared his company’s expertise in order to develop a flying taxi service.

Joby Aviation, a relatively unknown company, was founded ten years ago in 2009, but already they are making big promises to the aviation industry. They made huge leaps over the past ten years toward producing their envisioned “air taxi service” with hundreds of full-scale tests occurring between 2014 and 2017. In recent years, Joby Aviation has been working on testing their polished production prototypes, ready for “certification, production, and operation.”

Joby Aviation has been working on their electric vertical take-off and landing machines (eVTOL). Their aim is the develop it for commercial use, and their new partner, Toyota, saw an opportunity in this scheme.

Over US$590 million of investment has now been put into venture capital funding for the concept. Joby Aviation has recently shared some details about the aircraft. Taking off like a helicopter and then shifting into forward flight using its tilt rotors, this all-electric aircraft can carry five people, including the pilot.

Toyota is eager to get the ball rolling on aircraft services, and Joby Aviation believes their partnership will help them produce “fast, quiet and affordable air transportation services” quicker than other companies. Toyota plans to share its expertise “in manufacturing, quality, and cost controls” to push forward production.

Through this, both firms hope to achieve something that will help “alleviate persistent mobility challenges.” Being able to fly when ground traffic gets too congested would make for a much easier rush hour. And with some commuters in the air, commuters on the ground would also have an easier time.

Joby Aviation believes the tests they have done so far “prove the design is reliable, quiet, efficient and well-suited to the air taxi mission.”

With job positions like “Flight Test Technician” and “Senior Flight Test Engineer” posted on their website, it may seem that the dream is close at hand. But don’t get too excited: Joby Aviation and Toyota alike have said that it is “a long-term goal” and won’t be available anytime soon.

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