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Sky is no longer the limit: 6 flying electric ‘air taxis’ coming to fix urban transportation in 2022

The day when one billion people an hour each day are saved from traffic blues as they shift to air travel, food is delivered not by the delivery boy, but (you heard us right) the air taxi and organ deliveries and cargo transport happen via air too…That day is not too far away.

Move beyond electric cars, e-bikes, e-scooters and electric bus. A new kind of transport, which is faster, greener and more affordable is taking off. The rise of electric take-off and landing aircraft (eVTOL) aircraft has been driven by 5G wireless communications networks and autonomous flight technology along with the need to lower carbon and decongest roads in extremely populated cities. In a mission to to bring vertical commuting to the common man, urban air mobility (UAM) will reshape our cities.

Morgan Stanley had earlier predicted the eVTOL market will eclipse the helicopter industry and become a $1-trillion business by 2050. TFN brings you a lowdown on some noteworthy eVTOL or air taxi startups that are going to take our skies by the storm in the coming years. As we bring in the New Year, let’s take a bow for innovations that are set to make flying more fun in the future.

Fasten your seatbelts, please!

Lilium

Founded year: 2015

Founders: Daniel Wiegand, Matthias Meiner, Patrick Nathen, Sebastian Born

Location: Wessling, Germany

Funding: $826.4M

The German electric aircraft developer is introducing a lightweight jet with low noise range and super high speed. Using electric motors to power mini jets rather than propellers, its Lilium Jet is a five-passenger aircraft that will travel at 186 miles per hour. The aircraft will be unveiled in Bavaria and Orlando, Florida and is expected to lower travel time between the two destinations. Looking at an early rollout in 2024, the company aims to target busy commuter routes in the US such as New York or Miami. It also offers a digital platform to book and schedule the aircraft in real-time that includes features like passenger ticketing, air traffic control and aircraft scheduling.

Volocopter

Founded year: 2011

Founders: Alexander Zosel, Stephan Wolf

Location: Bruchsal, Germany

Funding: €369.2M

The urban air mobility service provider developing battery-powered electric air taxis will launch multipurpose aircraft VoloCity to transport passengers safely and quietly within cities. Its other aircraft VoloDrone aims to establish more efficient and sustainable logistics processes. The company also performed the first three-minute public test flight of VoloDrone in October this year at Hamburg.

Kitty Hawk

Founded year: 2010

Founders: Sebastian Thrun

Location: California, US

Funding: $1M

With a mission to make the dream of personal flight a reality, the US-based startup is building safe, fun, easy-to-fly aircraft. One of the first startups to enter the eVTOL space, the Google co-founder and former CEO Larry Page has also backed it. Its newest eVTOL is a fully autonomous, single-seat aircraft Heaviside. According to the company, the aircraft’s debut flight will aim as high as 1,000 feet and hover in the air for about five minutes.

Joby Aviation

Founded year: 2009

Founders: JoeBen Bevirt

Location: California, US

Funding: $1.6B

Aiming to operate fast, quiet and convenient air taxi service beginning in 2024, the California-based startup became the first eVOTL company to list publicly on the stock market in February this year. It also acquired Uber Elevate after a $75 million Investment from Uber in January. Designed to help reduce urban congestion and accelerate the shift to sustainable modes of transit, its aircraft has a range of 150 miles on a single charge and can transport a pilot and four passengers at speeds of up to 200 mph.

SkyDrive

Founded year: 2018

Founders: Tomohiro Fukuzawa

Location:  Tokyo, Japan

Funding:  ¥5.7B

Flying cars will no longer just be seen in Harry Potter movies now. Japan’s SkyDrive is making this dream a reality. The company aims to launch a flying taxi service in Japan’s Osaka as early as 2025. Marking the world’s first manned flight in a flying car designed for urban use, its prototype completed a five-minute test flight with a pilot on board in the city of Toyota in August 2020. The one-seater electric aircraft flew to six feet above the ground and hovered in a test area for about five minutes. The company also plans to unveil a two-seater commercial model in 2023.

Archer Aviation

Founded year: 2020

Founders: Adam Goldstein, Brett Adcock

Location: California, US

Funding: $912.7M

The US-based startup is designing and manufacturing a fully electric aircraft to carry four passengers for 60 miles at speed of up to 150mph while producing minimal noise. Its two-seater eVTOL named Maker was unveiled in June and made its maiden hover flight this December. The company has now announced it will enter an extensive multi-year test campaign that should eventually lead to certification of the eVTOL by 2024.

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