NASA begins testing flying taxi for the first time

NASA is preparing to test the acoustic performance of a flying taxi model developed by the company Joby Aviation. Ultimately, these vehicles could integrate the urban landscape in order to limit traffic jams.

Flying taxis are coming soon!

The “flying taxis” market has several ambitious players. The Japanese company SkyDrive, for example, recently successfully closed the first manned flight of its vehicle. Other big names have also positioned themselves in the niche, namely General Motors, Airbus, Boeing or Rolls-Royce. In France, a similar project could also see the light of day in the near future. NASA is interested in the all-electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) model, designed by the Californian startup Joby Aviation.

Powered by six rotors, this taxi can cover a distance of up to 240 kilometers in a single flight and reach speeds of up to 320 km / h. Recently listed on the New York Stock Exchange, the company has been testing its full-size prototypes since 2017 and has already performed more than 1,000 test flights. As part of a recent partnership with NASA, the company intends to do what is necessary to reduce the noise of its blades as much as possible.

During a two-week test campaign, which incorporates the space agency’s National Advanced Air Mobility (AAM) campaign, several test flights will be operated from the Joby flight base near Big Sur, in California.

NASA engineers will rely on the Mobile Acoustics Facility, made up of more than fifty pressure plate microphones arranged in a grid, to accurately measure the vehicle’s noise emissions. The goal: to lay the foundations for a future regulatory framework governing the use of these taxis in cities.

flying taxi nasaAn illustration of a flying taxi in an urban setting. Credit: NASA

As little noise as possible

NASA teams will then use this data to compare the noise of the eVTOL with other more conventional devices. The goal is to make this drone easily fit into the cityscape without adding additional noise pollution.

“We have always believed that a minimal acoustic footprint is essential to make aviation a practical part of everyday travel without compromising quality of life,” said Joby Aviation Founder and CEO Joe Ben Bevirt. “We are incredibly proud to have worked closely with the agency over the past ten years and to be the first eVTOL company to fly as part of their campaign to demonstrate the acoustic profile of our aircraft.”

Jody Aviation hopes to be certified by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) as early as 2023. If all goes according to plan, then the company could begin providing commercial passenger service as early as the following year.

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