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 when Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine announced a $500 million investment in a Dayton-area production facility for the lofty livery vehicles.
Santa Cruz, California-based Joby Aviation, which accepted $325 million in government incentives to open the 140-acre plant, is just one company racing to bring the hotly-anticipated electric vertical takeoff and landing vehicle to market as early as 2025.
The relatively quiet, high-tech cabs — capable of taking off and touching down vertically and of traveling at considerable speeds and over distances comparable to some old-model electric cars — have increasingly been in the news, as airlines like United partner with 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. Wing, a Google subsidiary, has already used eVTOL vehicles for package delivery. Some don’t even require a pilot’s license to operate.
So far, Joby has logged roughly 30,000 hours on prototypes of the dronelike craft, which can accommodate four passengers and a pilot. The manufacturer, which purchased Uber Elevate in late 2020, expects to begin offering ride-sharing 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 states that a 7-minutes trip from lower Manhattan to JFK would be feasible.
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, which houses the headquarters of the Air Force Research Laboratory.
Joby was founded quietly in 2009 and went public in 2021, afterward becoming the first eVTOL firm awarded an airworthiness certification by the US Air Force.
“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, commander of the AFRL.
“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.