Joby Aviation: Secretive Air Taxi Startup Raises $100M

The secretive aviation startup Joby Aviation announced that it had raised $100 million from a group of investors, including the venture capital wings of Intel, Toyota, and JetBlue, reports The Verge. The money will be put towards developing the company’s prototype for an air taxi, which, according to Bloomberg, has been performing test flights at Joby’s private airfield in Northern California.

Inventor JoeBen Bevirt founded Joby in 2009. Bevirt let the Santa Cruz Sentinel know he wants to bring 100 additional engineers on board his team of 120 employees in order to develop a workable air taxi vehicle. Joby has kept a good deal of info about its project under lock and key, unlike other companies working on electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft.

A few released renderings show a hybrid between a plane and a drone, with 12 rotors and space in the cabin for four passengers, though according to a spokesperson, what Joby is working on is “entirely new.” Joby would not offer out any recent photos or images of its prototype aircraft. Bloomberg was allowed access to the test flight facility but only if its reporter agreed not to describe the vehicle in detail.

The result of this demo:

“The pilot managed a vertical takeoff, 15 minutes of flight in a 15-mile loop, and a safe landing. Powered by electric motors and sophisticated control software, the taxi performs like a cross between a drone and a small plane, able to zip straight up on takeoff and then fly at twice the speed of a helicopter while making about as much noise as a swarm of superbees.”

Joby isn’t the only company trying to bring the world into the future of flying cars. At least 19 companies are working on air taxi plans, including Boeing, Airbus, tech firms like Uber, and smaller startups like Kitty Hawk, which is owned by Larry Page, Google founder. Geely, the parent company to Volvo, acquired Terrafugia, an aviation startup, while Intel and Daimler are investing in Volocopter, a German company.