Flying Car Developer Takes Off, Becomes Publicly Traded

David Mantey 

A California developer of flying taxis will become a publicly-traded company — and celebrated by unveiling its aircraft in action for the first time.
Joby Aviation founder and CEO JoeBen Bevirt made the video announcement standing in front of the company’s aircraft — which proceeded to quietly start up its six rotors, lift a few feet off the ground, turn around and begin a slow ascent.

The company, one of the numerous would-be flying car startups around the world, operated quietly for nearly a decade before landing hundreds of millions in venture capital investment — including from Toyota, Intel, and JetBlue — in recent years. Late last year, the company acquired Uber’s flying car division, and soon, it will merge with a special purpose acquisition company in order to list its shares on the New York Stock Exchange.

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Inside the world’s first airport for drones and flying cars

By Daniel Bennett

We talk to Ricky Sandhu, CEO of Urban Air Port, about the ambitious plan for an off-grid transport hub for drones and air-taxis.

Plans to build the world’s first off-grid transport hub for drones and air-taxis have just received government funding. The company Urban Air Port, which is building the hub in Coventry, will provide flying electric vehicles, carrying cargo and eventually people, with a place to charge and load up.

The project aims to lay the groundwork for a web of transport hubs that could provide a green, clean remedy to our cities’ groaning infrastructure.

We talk to Ricky Sandhu, the Founder & CEO of Urban Air Port, to find out if the idea could take off.

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Cadillac shows off a single-seater VTOL drone concept

By Daniel Cooper

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It’s an escalade, but in the air. 

At GM’s CES keynote, the company showed off a number of Cadillac vehicles, both real and imagined, to explain its vision for the future of transport. On the fantastic side, the company presented two concept vehicles that it says will exemplify its “halo portfolio.” First up is a single-seater drone, a VTOL craft with a 90kW battery, that can travel from rooftop-to-rooftop at up to 90 kilometers (56 miles) per hour.

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This Flying Car Costs $599K—and It’s Now Street Legal in Holland

By Vanessa Bates Ramirez 

We’ve all had the experience of sitting in bumper-to-bumper traffic with nothing but miles of red taillights ahead, wishing we could somehow break away from the pack and zoom off to our destination traffic-free. Now drivers in the Netherlands are one step closer to making this vision a reality, as a commercial flying car has just been approved for use on roads there.

The car is called the PAL-V Liberty, and it’s made by Dutch company PAL-V. It looks a lot like what you’d probably expect or imagine a flying car to look like: a cross between a small helicopter and a very aerodynamic car (with a foldable propeller on top).

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First electric air taxis set to fly in Singapore by 2023

Posted by Mallika Soni 

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VOLOCOPTER COMPLETED

Singapore is set to host the world’s first electric-powered air taxi service by the end of 2023, according to Volocopter GmbH, which is developing the vertical-takeoff craft.

The German manufacturer is committed to starting operations within three years once it completes flight trials, evaluation and certification in collaboration with the city-state, it said in a statement Wednesday. Tickets for a 15-minute trip costing 300 euros ($364) are already on sale.

Volocopter completed a demonstration flight over Singapore’s Marina Bay area in October last year, and the first commercial route is likely to fly tourists over the same district, offering spectacular views of the skyline, the company said. Later services could including cross-border journeys.

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Self-driving robotaxis are taking off in China


By Michelle Toh, CNN Business 

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Hong Kong(CNN Business)The world has been inching toward fully autonomous cars for years. In China, one company just got even closer to making it a reality.

On Thursday, AutoX, an Alibaba (BABA)-backed startup, announced it had rolled out fully driverless robotaxis on public roads in Shenzhen. The company said it had become the first player in China to do so, notching an important industry milestone.

Previously, companies operating autonomous shuttles on public roads in the country were constrained by strict caveats, which required them to have a safety driver inside. h

This program is different. In Shenzhen, AutoX has completely removed the backup driver or any remote operators for its local fleet of 25 cars, it said. The government isn’t restricting where in the city AutoX operates, though the company said they are focusing on the downtown area.

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Air taxis could reduce fuel consumption, alleviate traffic congestion


by Jennifer J Burke , Oak Ridge National Laboratory

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An ORNL model using air taxis on the heavily traveled route between downtown Los Angeles and Los Angeles International Airport revealed that fuel consumption is significantly reduced if even a small percentage of commuters switched to air taxis. Credit: Andy Sproles/ORNL, U.S. Dept. of Energy

If air taxis become a viable mode of transportation, Oak Ridge National Laboratory researchers have estimated they could reduce fuel consumption significantly while alleviating traffic congestion.

Air taxis, small aerial vehicles that provide point-to-point, on-demand travel, have proven to save time, but their impact on fuel use remains largely unquantified.

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Hyper loop achieves 1,000 KM/H speed in Korea, days after Virgin passenger test

South Korea hopes to launch first hyperloop network in 2024

A hyperloop prototype in South Korea has reached speeds over 1,000km/h, just days after a rival system performed the first successful passenger test using the technology.

The Korean Railroad Research Institute (Korail) announced on Wednesday that a “hyper-tube train” travelling through a vacuum hit a top speed of 1,019km/h (633mph).

The test took place on a scale model and is the first of its kind in the world, according to Business Korea. The previous top speed, also set by Korail, was 714km/h.

South Korea is hoping to launch a hyperloop network by 2024, cutting the journey time between Seoul and Busan from three hours to 30 minutes.

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DARPA awards contracts for autonomous ‘Sea Train’

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DARPA concept

 The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency has awarded contracts for its Sea Train program, which seeks to enable autonomous vessels to perform long-range transit operations.

In September, Applied Physical Sciences Corp., Gibbs & Cox Maritime Solutions and Mar Technologies were chosen for the program, which will include two 18-month phases.

The contract awards’ total potential values were $31.2 million, $30.4 million and $28.5 million, respectively. Through the effort, DARPA wants “to provide some operational flexibility for medium-sized unmanned surface vessels,” said Andrew Nuss, a program manager within the agency’s tactical technology office. Each company is “developing a unique approach to be able to address the goals of the Sea Train program.”

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Lexus is addressing autonomous car anxiety with innovative designs

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Lexus is reimagining the future of self-driving cars.

Although the future of autonomous cars is certainly exciting, much of what it will look like remains unknown. Will we still sit in the “driver’s” seat or will the interiors of new cars look more like a café? This is one of thquestions that Lexus is trying to answer.

The luxury carmaker partnered with two TED fellows to try and figure out what the future of self-driving vehicles will look like. Moreover, the project aims to lessen some fears about taking away the interactive part of driving.

Although true autonomous cars won’t be a reality for most consumers anytime soon, addressing these problems now will help make their adoption much smoother.

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Virgin Hyperloop hits an important milestone : The first human passenger test

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For the first time, two people rode a hyperloop pod through a nearly airless tube at 100 mph

VirginVirgin Hyperloop announced that for the first time it has conducted a test of its ultra-fast transportation system with human passengers.

The test took place on Sunday afternoon at the company’s DevLoop test track in the desert outside Las Vegas, Nevada. The first two passengers were Virgin Hyperloop’s chief technology officer and co-founder, Josh Giegel, and head of passenger experience, Sara Luchian. After strapping into their seats in the company’s gleaming white and red hyperloop pod, dubbed Pegasus, they were transferred into an airlock as the air inside the enclosed vacuum tube was removed. The pod then accelerated to a brisk 100 miles per hour (160 km/h) down the length of the track, before slowing down to a stop.

It’s an important achievement for Virgin Hyperloop, which was founded in 2014 on the premise of making Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk’s vision of a futuristic transportation system of magnetically levitating pods traveling through nearly airless tubes at speeds of up to 760 mph (1,223 km/h) a reality.

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