After showing his stomach a little over a month ago, Joby’s flying electric taxi is now starting a test protocol in collaboration with NASA. The dawn of a real logistics revolution?
At the end of July, the electric vertical take-off and landing plane from Joby Aviation signed a tour de force very noticed, covering no less than 248km in flight on a single charge. A figure so impressive according to some observers that it seems to bring the democratization of these technologies closer to several years; and apparently that is also the opinion of NASA.
On August 30, the US space agency announced in a communicated that she had started a battery of tests on the machine, as part of her campaign Advanced Air Mobility (AAM). This is a program aimed at “help emerging aviation markets develop air transport systems that move goods or people to places previously little or not served by traditional aviation, on a regional, local, or even urban scale.”
Joby being one of the best students in the business, it seems only natural that NASA is interested in their device. Initially, the objective will be to estimate their viability. NASA will begin by collecting large amounts of data in order to analyze the movements of the aircraft. They will also check its ability to communicate reliably with a controller, a condition sine qua non to the industrialization of this technology and its integration into the real world.
New technology for the real world
Because the AAM program is not limited to an experimental engineering project; the aim remains to democratize this technology. It is therefore not only the purely technical aspect that will be scrutinized. It is a vast logistics project, which will require taking into account many factors not directly linked to performance; instead, it is also a question of simulating what the airspace might look like in real conditions, if it were constantly flown by such aircraft. The regulatory aspect will therefore be just as important.
We can cite the acoustic tests of these air taxis, which will take place during different types of journeys; more important information than it seems, since this taxi will certainly have to operate in a dense urban environment. In addition, these reviews will not be limited to aircraft. NASA will take the opportunity to refine its test protocol. It will thus establish various strict criteria and establish new ones, which will then be used to test other competing devices under similar conditions from 2022.
Hopefully these tests are conclusive, because we must admit that the idea of making his daily trips in such a jewel has something to seduce! For more details on the progress of the AAM Project, we recommend the excellent NASA Podcast Series (available here), which is full of fascinating details about this technology that is sure to revolutionize our everyday life.