The Next Phase at Joby

You might know Joby Aviation as a pioneer in the development of novel aircraft enabled by electric propulsion. For a number of years, Joby did important aerodynamics work with NASA and others on projects such as the X-57 Maxwell and LEAPTech.

What you might not know is that for nearly a decade the company has also been working on a vehicle to achieve a specific mission: to enable a transportation service that saves people an hour a day in their day-to-day travel.

We’ve been working toward a future where you can book a flight on one of our vehicles with one click. It’ll pick you up from a nearby vertiport and fly you safely to your destination. You’ll get there at least five times faster than driving, with zero emissions.

This is an ambitious goal, and we think about tackling it in three distinct steps.

First, we’ll build the right vehicle. Second, we’ll use that vehicle to enable an air-transportation service. Third, we’ll scale that service—increasing manufacturing volume, driving utilization, and increasing available infrastructure—to steadily lower prices for passengers.

We are now squarely focused on the first step. We’re in the hard business of vehicle development because the right vehicle is the linchpin to opening up a new market for short-hop air transportation.

To us, the right vehicle is one that delivers on the following goals:

  • Unparalleled safety through redundant systems
  • Low noise
  • Range and speed optimized for moving multiple people quickly to and from their destinations

Getting each of these right is critical. If the vehicle is too loud, it won’t be able to take off and land where it’s most convenient for passengers. If range is too short, it will be limited to only a small percentage of trips. If speed is too slow, it won’t save people enough time.

Our team has made significant progress on a vehicle that achieves these targets over the past four years. After building and flight-testing one of the world’s first full-scale, all-electric vertical-takeoff-and-landing (eVTOL) vehicle prototypes, we’re now developing a commercial version of that design and preparing that vehicle for certification. Our most recent funding round will help accelerate that effort.

We expect to have more news to share soon on our vehicle development progress and related areas—including aircraft routing, ground infrastructure, and pilot training and support. Of course, if you are excited about these goals and interested in joining our team, please check out our open positions here.

Before we end, however, we want to spend a moment on the costs of vehicle and the cost of trips.

One of the common questions around eVTOL vehicles is: can these flights be affordable?

It’s natural to think about our vehicle—and this new class of eVTOL vehicles, more generally—in the way we now think about helicopters or private planes: as something used by the affluent.

How can we make the economics work so that these vehicles can be accessible to everyone?

Here’s how we think about it:

Fuel costs and other operating expenses (like maintenance and depreciation) are a significant component of air travel costs. A small, efficient helicopter on a short, 25mi trip can use more than $40 in fuel. Our fully-electric vehicle can cover the same distance at twenty times lower energy cost with significant reductions in other operating expenses. That savings can be delivered directly to customers.

While our vehicle may be more expensive on a per-unit basis than traditional combustion planes or helicopters, the end-cost to customers can be lower if the vehicle is both high-capacity and highly-utilized. This is how existing commercial airlines are able to drive down costs. They keep their vehicles filled, and moving a lot of people most of the time. As a result, they can spread the fixed costs of the vehicle and the variable costs of pilots and maintenance over a larger number of passenger trips at progressively lower ticket prices.

Finally, we can drive down cost (and improve pickup times too) by scaling manufacturing, putting more vehicles into service, and operating from steadily more takeoff-and-landing locations.

It’s going to take a lot of work to get these right—and it all starts with the vehicle.

However, if we do, we believe we can offer point-to-point transportation that is significantly better than driving and steadily more affordable over time. What’s especially exciting is that the feedback loop is a positive one in a number of ways: it delivers progressively better service to customers, steadily lower fares and shifts an ever greater percentage of trips to zero-emissions vehicles.

—The Joby Team

Joby Aviation Secures $100M in Series B Funding

Joby Aviation announced it has secured $100M in Series B financing to take its all-electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) passenger aircraft into pre-production and certification. The financing was led by Intel Capital, and includes strategic investors Singapore-based EDBI, JetBlue Technology Ventures, and Toyota AI Ventures. Also participating are new investors Allen & Company, AME Cloud Ventures, and Ron Conway, as well as existing investors Capricorn Investment Group, 8VC, Sky Dayton and Paul Sciarra. With its previously-unannounced Series A financing led by Capricorn in 2016, this brings the company’s total funding to over $130 million.

As technological and material advancements usher in a transformation of the $10T transportation industry, Joby Aviation is leading eVTOL innovation and has designed, built and flight-tested a fully-electric, vertical take-off and landing passenger aircraft that is optimized for local and regional air-transportation-as-a-service. Joby Aviation’s 5-seat vehicle will be faster than existing rotorcraft, fly at least 150 miles on a charge, and be 100 times quieter than conventional aircraft during takeoff and landing, and near-silent in flyover.

Joby Aviation is focused on building a new transportation solution that rises above the constraints of ground infrastructure to offer a safe, sustainable, and much faster means of getting from point A to point B. The company aims to solve the problem of city congestion and long commute times.

“People waste billions of hours sitting on roads worldwide each year. We envision a future where commuting by eVTOL is a safer, faster, and cost-competitive alternative to ground transportation,” said Joby Aviation founder and CEO JoeBen Bevirt. “We have spent the last ten years developing the technologies that have made our full-scale technical demonstrator possible and are now ready to build a commercial version of the aircraft. We’re excited to have attracted the backing of leaders in auto manufacturing, data intelligence, and transportation sectors.”

In addition to focusing on product development and flight certification, the company plans to expand its team—including experts in structural engineering, electrical engineering, power electronics, battery electrochemistry, certification, flight controls, and software.

“Intel believes the future of transportation is data-driven – whether you’re talking about autonomous cars or next-generation air travel,” said Wendell Brooks, president, Intel Capital. “Joby Aviation has been laser-focused on delivering a unique vehicle into the market. This is a truly disruptive technology with the potential to push the geographic boundaries of where people can live and work.”

“For over a decade, Capricorn has been investing in companies tackling tough, high-impact challenges,” said Dipender Saluja, managing partner of the Technology Impact Fund, Capricorn Investment Group.  “Some of these companies have gone on to become global leaders in electric ground transportation, space and earth imaging. We were excited to lead the Series A financing of Joby in 2016, and look forward to continuing our work with them in this new stage of their vehicle development program.”

“Joby Aviation’s advanced leadership in the eVTOL industry will significantly alleviate transportation challenges on the ground, and enable rapid and reliable commuting between and within cities,” said Ms. Swee Yeok CHU, CEO and president, EDBI. “We look forward to Joby contributing to future urban aerial mobility.”

“At JetBlue Technology Ventures, we believe the regional transportation ecosystem is ripe for disruption and startups like Joby Aviation will revolutionize how people move across urban areas,” said Bonny Simi, president, JetBlue Technology Ventures. “We are excited about the transformative potential of eVTOLs and believe Joby Aviation is the most advanced company in this emerging sector. Its vehicle platform will be the standard to beat.”

“Toyota’s mission is to improve human mobility,” said Jim Adler, managing director, Toyota AI Ventures. “Joby Aviation’s vision of delivering safe, affordable and accessible air-transportation-as-a-service fits squarely in our view of the future of transportation: one that is highly networked and increasingly automated.”