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eVTOL: electric flying car beats helicopters in silent commute

“Flying cars,” or eVTOLs (Electric Vertical Take-Off and Landing vehicles), are most likely to begin their operation as short-haul taxis in urban areas. They take off/land vertically like helicopters but fly like airplanes, though they are more silent, stable & efficient. They resemble bigger, manned drones.

“Joby Aviation Inc. is locking up leases on rooftops where its mosquito-looking machines will land as early as 2024,” explain news outlets such as Bloomberg.

“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 the craft to fly (and glide) horizontally. If one of the fans conks out, the remainder can mitigate a disaster.”

We visited Joby’s manufacturing facility at the tiny Marina municipal airport (north of Monterey, California), where they send their prototype into the air a couple of times per day to continue tinkering with the design.

Engineer Edward Stilson talked about his past decade with the company – founded in 2009 before drones or electric cars were a thing – gave us a tour of the factory floor and put us into a simulator to try our hand at piloting the craft.