Electric Air Taxis: The Future of Transport?

Electric Air Taxis: The Future of Transport?

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3 Min Read
Posted: November 15, 2023

Yesterday, New York City Eric Adams presented a plan to use  “electric air taxis” to fly people to and from airports in the city. “The use of this technology is going to allow us to have clearer skies,” he claimed, referring to the lack of emissions during use.

The manufacturer “Joby Aviation” presented a demo flight at the Downtown Manhattan Heliport, the first time these air taxis were tested in an urban environment. Eric Adams also suggested their use of delivery services to reduce New York City’s rampant traffic.

The eVTOL Industry explained.

This news is the latest eVTOL (electric Vertical Take-Off and Landing) industry development. An eVTOL aircraft resembles a large drone and uses electric power to fly. In functioning, the eVTOL works much like a helicopter. The eVTOL uses propellers to hover and fly, typically carrying two to six passengers. The concept of an eVTOL was first revealed when NASA revealed a video of the NASA Puffin eVTOL, as shown below.

NASA Puffin eVTOL concept

NASA Puffin, designed by aerospace engineer Mark Moore.

The concept of an eVTOL immediately caught the interest of the world. By 2021, a White Paper NASA document revealed  “more than 150 companies in the process of developing prototypes in a fierce competition between startups”. Some of the bigger startups included EVE, Volocopter, and Joby Aviation, the startup in charge of yesterday’s presentation.

More than a billion dollars have been invested in various eVTOL startups. Notably, eVTOLs have been roped into climate commitments from cities across the US as part of a goal to transition to clean energy. New York City, where the air taxis were presented, has set a goal of reducing emissions by 80% from a 2005 baseline by 2050.

Air taxis and the future of transport

Joby Aviation’s website describes their air taxi as feeling “more like getting into an SUV than boarding a plane. The air taxis will be able to take four riders at a time and are extremely quiet, contrary to concerns about noise pollution.

They can go up to 200 mph, allowing NYC citizens to get to the airports within minutes.

Joby's electric flying taxis are one step closer to lift off

Joby Aviation presents its air taxi.

It is important to note that this is a developing technology and that there is still a wide variety of ideas and startups concerning the air taxi.

For example, “Flight Corridors” are being proposed in Europe, which will function as lanes in the sky. They will directly connect the place of departure to the point of arrival. Charging infrastructure is being placed around Manhattan and even rural areas. Joby Aviation’s prototype can recharge within 5 minutes before taking off again. Meanwhile, passengers can get off, and new ones can board.

Volocopter, a German competitor of Joby Aviation, is aiming to certify its two-seat air taxi in the EU by next year and will likely be the first to begin.

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