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eVTOL Gets a Step Closer

All-electric flying taxi completes 150 mile test flight and 2024 looks likely to be the year we can start enjoying efficient emission-free transportation.

eVTOL (pronounced eee-vee-toll) is short for electric vertical takeoff and landing. Some might call eVTOL aircraft “flying cars,” but they’re more accurately called electric helicopters. A regular helicopter is a VTOL (as in it takes off up-and-down vertically, rather than rolling down a runway like an airplane), and if you make it electric, then it’s an eVTOL.

It's only a matter of time before fully operational air taxis take to the skies as numerous startups power ahead with plans to provide high-speed public transport with electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) vehicles. This includes California-based Joby Aero, that has just flown a full-sized prototype air taxi more than 150 miles (241 km) on a single charge.

"We've achieved something that many thought impossible with today’s battery technology," said Joby founder and CEO JoeBen Bevirt. "By doing so we've taken the first step towards making convenient, emissions-free air travel between places like San Francisco and Lake Tahoe, Houston and Austin, or Los Angeles and San Diego an everyday reality."

The company is working hard to certify its aircraft with the Federal Aviation Administration and it hopes to start commercial passenger services as early as 2024, flying a pilot and four passengers at speeds of up to 200 mph (320 km/h).

Joby's latest milestone is yet another step towards the widespread deployment of flying taxi technologies. It joins a list of other eVTOL firms that are close to going commercial, such as Volocopter, which aims to start its air taxi services in Paris and Singapore by 2024, and Lilium, which recently unveiled a new design for a 7-seater flying taxi with a view to also going commercial by 2024. All going to plan, 2024 looks set to be the year that intracity public transport finally takes flight.


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