Joby Joins Uber Elevate
On Dec. 20, Uber announced that the company had signed a multi-year commercial partnership with Joby Aviation to launch a fast, reliable, clean and affordable urban air taxi service in select markets. Joby will supply and operate the electric air taxis, and Uber will provide airspace support services, skyport infrastructure, connections to ground transportation and customer interfaces through its aerial rideshare network. With this agreement, Joby Aviation becomes the first partner in Uber’s Elevate initiative with a committed timetable to deploy air taxi services by 2023.
Joby Aviation expects to be among the first air taxi developers to commercialize all-electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOLs) aircraft for passenger use. Joby Aviation’s best-in-class technology, financial backing and strategic relationships makes the California-based aerospace company well positioned to compete in the emerging electric air taxi industry. Compared to conventional aircraft, these new all-electric vehicles are intended to be dramatically quieter, safer, more affordable and more environmentally friendly.
Joby is believed to have been flying the S4 since 2017. The aircraft is configured with six tilting and folding blade propellers, four of which project forward from pylons on a 35-ft. (10.7) span high-wing and two that cantilever forward from a V-tail.
Joby has registered two aircraft with the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). One was manufactured in 2017 and issued registration number N541JA in January 2018; it has the Joby model number JAS4-1 (“Joby Aviation S4 aircraft no. 1”) and serial number JAS4-101. A second aircraft was registered as N542AJ in August 2019 with model JAS4-2 and serial number JAS4-201, with a manufacturing date of 2019.
At the VFS 6th Annual Electric VTOL Symposium in January 2019, Joby chief test pilot Justin Paines noted that the company had “Successfully flown subscale and full-scale demonstrators” and provided the following details on the S4:
- Safety assurance in excess of Part 23 certification requirements
- Unified flight control — extremely simple vehicle operations (SVO)
- All-electric conventional or vertical takeoff and landing (eCTOL and eVTOL)
- 200 mph (480 km/h) cruise
- 150-mile (240-km) range
- 100x quieter than a helicopter
At the second annual event in August 2015, Joby engineer Alex Stoll had presented the planned configuration with a wingspan of 35 ft (10.7 m), overall length of 24 ft (7.3 m) and a gross weight of 4,000 lb (1,815 kg).
As part of its broader Elevate aviation initiative, Uber is developing Uber Air to enable short-distance, urban flights, connected by multi-modal ground transportation services via the Uber platform in numerous cities worldwide. As part of this initiative, fleets of small, piloted electric aircraft will provide four-person ridesharing flights in densely populated urban areas.
Joby was honored in May 2018 with the VFS Paul E. Haueter Award, given for an outstanding technical contribution to the field of VTOL aircraft development other than a helicopter or an operational vertical flight aircraft, was awarded to JoeBen Bevirt, the founder and chief executive oﬃcer of Joby Aviation Inc., for successfully demonstrating the world’s first high-speed, multi-passenger electric VTOL aircraft.
“We’re excited to partner with Uber,” stated Bevirt. “By bringing our next-generation aircraft and urban flight operations to Uber’s on-demand ground mobility network, we aim to get people to their destinations five times faster than driving, reduce urban congestion, and accelerate the shift to sustainable modes of transit.”