Electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) vehicle company Joby Aero announced it has passed an impressive milestone in the continuing development of advanced air mobility. California-based Joby says a prototype of its eVTOL craft traveled over 150 miles on a single battery charge – a flight it claims to be the longest of its kind.
eVTOL marathon flight claims record for a single battery charge
Joby revealed the July 21 flight on Tuesday, reporting the full-sized prototype of its eVTOL vehicle had flown a total of 154.6 miles on a single battery charge. The test was conducted at the company’s Big Sur, California, flight base. It used a predesignated aerial circuit the craft flew 11 times in an hour and 17 minutes. No details were given on payload weight, or whether the craft’s batteries – lithium ion units with an 811 nickel-manganese-cobalt cathode and a graphite anode selected for the trial – were entirely spent or retained a charge after landing.
There may be some disagreement over whether the flight was indeed the longest for an eVTOL craft on single battery charge. Some reports note Vermont-based Beta Technologies revealed its air taxi prototype had flown 205 miles during a July 7 trial. However, those reports also note that outing involved less taxing conditions, including operating in airplane mode that averted battery-draining vertical take-off and landing.
Joby emphasizing battery performance for future air taxi service
Either way, Joby’s marathon jaunt marked a major accomplishment for a company planning on launching commercial air taxi service of its four passenger aircraft by 2024.
“We’ve achieved something that many thought impossible with today’s battery technology,” says Joby founder and CEO JoeBen Bevirt. “By doing so we’ve taken the first step towards making convenient, emissions-free air travel between places like San Francisco and Lake Tahoe, Houston and Austin, or Los Angeles and San Diego an everyday reality.”
Joby has put a lot of work in battery development as it pushes toward its air taxi service launch. It says its cells will allow an average flight range of 26 miles, and more than 10,000 cycles. Its battery R&D team is led by former Tesla expert Jon Wagner, who said the 150-mile-plus eVTOL flight on a single battery charge was just a glimpse of what future tech advances hold.
“We’ve worked hard to maximize the energy efficiency of this aircraft and prove what we have always known to be possible with today’s battery technology,” Wagner states. “With the right cell chemistry and a lot of hard work across the entire engineering team, we’ve been able to create a remarkably efficient aircraft that can make the most of today’s commercially available batteries.”
Joby is working to obtain Federal Aviation Administration certification of its craft, which has already received US Air Force airworthiness approval.
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