Could It Soon Be As Easy To Book A Flying Taxi As An Uber?

Within the next decade, it could be as easy to hail a flying car or taxi as it is to call an Uber today. This possibility suddenly took a huge leap towards reality this month when the Federal Aviation Administration approved proprietary software from Joby Aviation.

Like a scene out of the popular 1960s sci-fi cartoon series ‘The Jetsons,’ so-called flying taxis may seem futuristic but the here-and-now approval for a system that’ll let you book one makes it clear they’re on the way.

Joby said yesterday it had received FAA authorization for its new software operating system, which will be at the core of its planned air taxi service.

It includes a simple downloadable mobile app for customers, scheduling and management tools for pilots, and a matching system that efficiently pairs customers with available aircraft — much like Uber does today.

The mobile app will be integrated into booking apps for Uber and Delta Airlines (its launch partner). Joby said it also plans to sell the software-as-a-service to other partners that buy its aircraft in the future.

Most of the buzz about eVTOLS— electric vertical takeoff and landing aircraft — is about the design of the aircraft themselves.

They’re ultra-quiet electric planes that take off and land like a helicopter but fly like a plane. But as these new flying cars get closer to FAA certification, companies are beginning to share more about how their on-demand flying taxi services will operate. Archer Aviation, a Joby competitor, for example, just announced plans to build an air taxi network connecting five cities around the San Francisco Bay area.

CARLIST THOUGHTS

The resemblance between Joby’s app and Uber’s is no coincidence. Joby acquired the ride-hail company’s air taxi division, Uber Elevate, in 2021. In 2019, Uber Elevate had a service called Uber Copter that let customers book a helicopter in New York City via the Uber app. The former head of Uber Elevate, Eric Allison, is now chief product officer for Joby, and has been developing the software in tandem with the aircraft.

“The air taxi service we plan to deliver isn’t like any sort of air travel that’s existed before,” Allison said in a press release. Hmmm, I wonder how much a 7-minute ride from NYC to JFK will cost, though.

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