Joby Aviation, the maker of electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) air taxi craft, has announced a partnership with All Nippon Airways (ANA) to prepare for aerial ridesharing services in Japan.
The link-up is initially focusing on Osaka in the west of the country, which will host the 2025 World Expo. Japanese officials have previously said they want to introduce air taxi services by then, and Joby’s collaboration with ANA will seek to make it among the first eVTOL companies providing those. Rivals EHang, Volocopter, and SkyDrive have revealed similar ambitions.
To prepare for that future business, ANA and Joby will work together on the development of infrastructure, pilot training, flight operations, air traffic management, public acceptance, and regulatory requirements.
In revealing their pairing, Joby and ANA put a major emphasis on the ridesharing aspect of future eVTOL air taxi operations in Japan, as well as the next-generation aerial technology involved.
The country’s recent history has featured an enormous concentration of its population into major urban centers, resulting in infamous road traffic congestion and over-taxed public transport options. Effective use of air taxis could help alleviate those ground clogs – albeit five passengers at a time.
Joby’s five-seater eVTOL vehicles can cover a maximum range of 150 miles at a top speed of 200 mph, which the company says will enable air taxi service between Osaka station to Kansai International Airport 31-miles away in less than 15 minutes. That journey now takes nearly an hour by car.
Elevating people from Osaka’s saturated streets to the skies, argues Joby CEO JoeBen Bevirt, will provide an example the rest of the country can adopt.
“Joby exists to help people save time while reducing their carbon footprint,” he said. “Japan offers us a spectacular opportunity to do just that with 92% of the population living in urban areas, and Tokyo registering as one of the top 20 most congested cities in the world.”
Joining their effort will be Toyota, which is already Joby’s largest outside investor to the tune of $400 million.
All three partners are members of Japan’s Public-Private Conference for the Future Air Mobility Revolution. Overseen by the Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Investment and the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport, and Tourism, the organization has led the push to bring urban air mobility and other next-generation aerial transportation to Japan.
The move is another reflection of Joby’s strategy of both manufacturing and operating eVTOL vehicles in its future air taxi services around the world in association with local partners to see that through. Earlier this month the company revealed its paring in South Korea with SK Telecom to develop mid-range, intra-city flights on demand.