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Will Flying Taxis Take Off?

A U.S. company is testing flying taxis. Would you ride in a flying car?

A vehicle with six vertical propellers in flight over a coastline.

Courtesy of Joby Aviation. © Joby Aero, Inc.

Joby’s flying vehicle is designed to operate as an air taxi for paying customers.

Instead of being stuck in traffic, what if you could fly over all those cars? That dream may soon become a reality. The U.S. government has just given a company called Joby Aviation permission to test flying taxis that may someday whisk people to and from airports.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has given Joby’s aircraft a Special Airworthiness Certificate. This means Joby is allowed to operate in U.S. airspace “for research and development purposes.” If all goes well, Joby hopes to begin selling rides in its flying vehicles in the United States in 2025.

Joby’s air taxis are what are known as eVTOL aircraft—eVTOL stands for “electrical vertical take-off and landing.” They run on electricity rather than gasoline, and they take off and land vertically, like helicopters. But Joby claims its aircraft are much quieter than helicopters. And since they run on electricity rather than gasoline, they’re greener than most cars.

Joby plans to create a ride-share service like Uber—customers would use an app to book a ride. But unlike Uber cars, Joby air taxis would be able to fly above traffic, getting customers to the airport fairly quickly. Companies in other countries, including Germany and the United Arab Emirates, are planning to launch similar services.

Some people have expressed concern that only the wealthy will be able to afford to use flying taxis. But Joby says the cost would be similar to the cost of an Uber or Lyft ride.

“Our goal is to actually be competitive with the cost of ground transportation, but to deliver you to your destination…five times faster and with a dramatically better experience,” Joby founder and CEO JoeBen Bevirt told Bloomberg TV. Before that can happen, Joby will need full certification from the FAA. 

The video below shows Joby’s aircraft in action.

Courtesy of Joby Aviation. © Joby Aero, Inc.

Check out the Joby air taxi in flight.

Did You Know?

© Archivist/stock.adobe.com; Animation Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc.

A taxicab is a vehicle (with driver) that customers hire to take them between any two points for a fee. People have been hiring vehicles in one form or another since the 1600s. The term cab comes from the cabriolet, a two-wheeled, one-horse carriage that was often hired in the 1800s.

The Future of Flying Cars

Copyright 2022, Samson Sky

Is this the flying car of your dreams?

Flying taxis may be in our immediate future. But what about flying cars for all? Decades ago, people envisioned a future in which highways stretched across the skies and regular drivers flew their vehicles around town. So why are we still grounded?

It turns out that several flying cars have already been invented. In 2022, for example, the Federal Aviation Administration approved a car called the Samson Sky Switchblade for test flights. The Switchblade looks like a regular car when it’s operated on the ground but can sprout wings and take flight. Two downsides are that it requires a runway for takeoff and will cost more than $100,000. Samson says many people have reserved cars—for whenever they’re available to buy. The video will give you an idea of how the Switchblade would work.

Copyright 2022, Samson Sky

So far, flying cars aren’t available to the public. Do you think the future will include skies full of flying cars?

Just Plug and Go!

Electric cars from 1905, 1974, and 2016.

Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., Library of Congress (LC-DIG-ppmsca-55465), © Mike Mareen/stock.adobe.com; Photo composite Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc.

Electric cars have included (from top left) the No. 9017 Studebaker Electric Trap from 1905, an electric car from 1974, and a Tesla Model S 85 from 2016.

Flying cars may be a long way off, but electric cars are already here. In fact, they’ve been here for quite a while. You can read more about them—and their surprisingly long history—at Britannica School.

WORD OF THE DAY

peripatetic

PART OF SPEECH:

adjective

Definition:

: going from place to place usually as part of your job

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