We’re this close to flying cars that will ‘save a billion people an hour a day’

A US company says it will roll out its first conforming aircraft next year, after which all it needs is operating go-ahead

17 October 2021 - 17:48 By Kyle Stock

The US’s Joby Aviation is locking up leases on rooftops where its mosquito-looking machines will land as early as 2024. The commute as envisioned by The Jetsons is finally nigh, though the rigs coming from Joby and its rivals are decidedly un-carlike. Able to take off and land vertically, they’re a lot like helicopters, only safer, cheaper and far quieter, thanks to a cluster of small electric rotors on a fixed wing, allowing the craft to fly (and glide) horizontally. If one of the fans fails, the remainder can mitigate a disaster.

The flying taxi industry is crowded, with several companies testing machines that approximate giant, people-carrying drones, including manufacturing giants such as Hyundai and start-ups, among them Lilium. Joby has been at it for 12 years. Over that time, it has landed about $100m (about R1,5bn) in venture funding. In August, the company went public via a SPAC backed by LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman. The pitch to passengers and prospective investors: save a billion people an hour a day...

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