It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s your Uber?
The futuristic fantasy of taxis soaring above congested city streets flew closer to reality today as Ohio Governor Mike DeWine announced a $500 million investment in a Dayton-area production facility for the lofty livery vehicles.
Santa Cruz, Calif.-based Joby Aviation, which accepted $325 in government incentives to open the 140-acre plant, is just one company racing to bring the hotly-anticipated electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) vehicle to market as early as 2025.
The relatively quiet, high-tech cabs — which can take off and land vertically, travel at considerable speeds and go about as far as some old-model electric cars between charges — have increasingly been in the news, as airlines like United partner with a growing number of manufacturers to make the once-pie-in-the-sky dream a reality.
One such company, Blade, has announced the eventual launch of swift, near-silent service from Midtown Manhattan to The Hamptons. Companies like Google’s Wing division have already been using similar vehicles for package delivery. Some eVTOL’s don’t even require a pilot’s license to operate.
So far, Joby has logged roughly 30,000 hours on prototypes of the drone-like craft, which can accommodate four passengers and a pilot. The manufacturer, which purchased Uber Elevate in late 2020, expects to begin offering ridesharing service in 2025, according to the Associated Press.
“Flying with us might feel more like getting into an SUV than boarding a plane, according to Joby’s website, which advertises that a trip from lower Manhattan to JFK would be feasible in 7 minutes.
Joby has already partnered with major transportation and tech companies including Toyota, Delta Air Lines and Intel.
The selected site — currently slated for 2,000 new jobs — sits in close proximity to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, in addition to the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratories headquarters.
After going public in 2021, Joby, founded quietly in 2009, became the first eVTOL firm awarded U.S. Air Force airworthiness certification.
“We have worked with several companies to accelerate the development and adoption of advanced aerial mobility technologies, such as electric vertical take-off and landing aircraft, and we’re thrilled to see the results of that investment strengthening the Defense Industrial Base,” said Brig. Gen. Scott Cain, Department of the Air Force Technology Executive Officer and Air Force Research Laboratory Commander.
“Ohio is No. 3 in the nation on manufacturing jobs — and that depth of manufacturing prowess, that workforce, is critical to us as we look to build this manufacturing facility,” Gov. DeWine said.
“We find this very, very exciting — not only for the direct jobs and indirect jobs it’s going to create, but … it’s a signal to people that Ohio is looking to the future. This is a big deal for us,” he continued.