Joby Aviation S4 eVTOL Tiltprop
Advanced VTOL Demonstrators Accelerate Full Tilt
Joby Aviation, Inc., which went silent in late 2016 shortly after telling Vertiflite that it would fly in early 2017 (“The Demand for On-Demand Mobility, Vertiflite, Jan./Feb. 2017), revealed on Feb. 1 that it is well advanced in its flight testing of its four-seat S4. Although the company has still not revealed any images of the S4 since the AHS-led 2nd Transformative Vertical Flight Workshop in August 2014 (shown), the company officially announced on Feb. 1 that it has been flying the eVTOL aircraft and that it is “now developing a commercial version of that design and preparing that vehicle for certification.”
Joby Aviation also announced on Feb. 1 that it has secured $100M in Series B financing to take its 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 $130M.
Bloomberg News published an exclusive feature on the S4 saying “It’s an exotic-looking white aircraft with numerous propellers. … The pilot managed a vertical takeoff, 15 minutes of flight in a 15-mile loop, and a safe landing. Powered by electric motors and sophisticated control software, the taxi performs like a cross between a drone and a small plane, able to zip straight up on takeoff and then fly at twice the speed of a helicopter while making about as much noise as a swarm of superbees.”
Joby Aviation’s five-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,” according to Joby Executive Chairman Paul Sciarra, a co-founder of Pinterest. Joby Aviation was founded in 2009 by CEO JoeBen Bevirt and initially funded by the sale of his company, Joby, which created the hugely successful line of GorillaPod camera tripods.