There is a rush in the aerospace world for the creation of a new line of VTOL aircraft. These vehicles if you may call them are for use in ride-hailing services.
These services are popularly known as ‘flying taxi’ services, a concept that got Malaysia’s Entrepreneur Minister in hot soup.
On Jan 15, Joby Aviation, a California-based aerospace company raised $590 million in venture capital funding, It also got a new partner, a major one, Toyota.
Joby. as it names suggests, has been working on electric aircraft for over a decade.
TOYOTA RUSHES IN
Now they got Toyota, one of the biggest car manufacturers in the world, on their side. Toyota will work on the design and build a fleet of vertical takeoff and landing aircraft—VTOL.
Why did Toyota take a share of this project? The Japanese it seems, are fond of the flying taxi concept. They are planning to launch one soon, as soon as the appropriate flying car is manufactured.
They will be used in a ride-hailing service and Joby recently announced a deal with Uber, the American ride-hailing giant.
Joby will help to deploy its air taxis on Uber’s ride-hailing network. It is not clear if Toyota’s air taxis will make the cut in this deal.
Joby was a virtual unknown until 2018 when it announced it raised US$100 million for its project.
The extremely secretive company founded by JoeBen Bevirt in 2009, has its own private airfield in Northern California.
No one knows what the craft is about and what are its secrets, if any. This is how tight the company kept its development process away from the prying eyes.
FIRST ON THE MARKET
Now we know how it looks like. See picture below:
According to the company, the all-electric aircraft has six rotors and seats five, including the pilot.
It can take off vertically, like a helicopter (we told you it looks like one), and then shift into forward flight using tilt rotors.
It can reach a top speed of 200 mph, can travel 150 miles on a single charge, and is 100 times quieter than a conventional aircraft – Because it is a drone, says Malaysian Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.
Drones do not make much noise, do they?
And the race is on. Joby now says Toyota will speed up the process to bring the vehicle to the market faster than others.
This is the name of the game. Be the first!
Meanwhile, the Malaysian Entrepreneur Development Minister Mohd Redzuan Yusof has gone silent on the Malaysian ‘air taxi’ project.
The Malaysian population, politicians from all borders and the country’s mindset will make it impossible for Malaysia to beat Toyota in the flying car business.
Malaysia may end up having no flying cars at all. Too many people are wishing the ‘big drone’ will fly but will eventually fall on their heads.
They have this vision of a car, flying high and crashing in the many condominiums across Selangor and Kuala Lumpur or Putrajaya.
When you look at Twitter and Facebook, you will see meme’s showing a huge flying in the air and crashing in a house or apartment.
It is either they do not trust the weather in the country, or the technology and innovation?
Despite the weather, which was a main complaint by a UN rapporteur who criticised Malaysia’s flying taxi project, we do not see helicopters or drones crash on a daily basis in the country!