So, are we getting flying cars or what?

Several companies are working on flying cars or taxis. But when can we ride in them?

June 17, 2021

Photo: FPG/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

“Blade Runner” led us to believe we’d have flying cars by 2019, so where TF are they?

Well, a few companies are working on what’s known as eVTOL (Electric Vertical Takeoff and Landing) tech, as recently explored by The New York Times.

Meet the contenders…

1) Joby, the metro air taxi

Joby Aviation is testing an electric air taxi that fits 1 pilot and 4 passengers. It plans to be airborne over major cities like Los Angeles (very “Blade Runner”) by 2024, and it has some big partners.

Toyota led a $620m Series C funding round in early 2020, per TechCrunch. In late 2020, Joby acquired Uber’s air taxi program Elevate in a deal that included a $75m investment from Uber.

2) BlackFly, the single passenger vehicle

Opener’s BlackFly is a 1-person pod that can go ~25 miles per charge. This one’s for rural use; customers can learn to fly via VR simulation.

Should BlackFly hit the market, it’ll likely cost $150k+.

3) The autonomous air taxi

Kitty Hawk was founded by Sebastian Thrun, formerly of Google’s self-driving car project. Its electric air taxi is called Heaviside.

Right now it only has 1 seat but will later have 2. Though it costs ~$300k to build a Heaviside, Thrun sees the cost offset by its use as a ridesharing vehicle.

Okay, but how feasible is any of this?

While the benefits might include less traffic, faster commutes, and more sustainable urban mobility, some experts don’t think a 2024 launch is realistic.

For one, the Federal Aviation Administration would have to sign off on it.

And as both the NYT and the more skeptical Jalopnik point out, customers would have to feel comfortable taking an air taxi — and that could take some time.

So, promising, but maybe hold your air-horses.

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