Founded in 2009 by JoeBen Bevirt, Joby Aviation is a venture-backed startup aerospace company is located in Santa Cruz and San Carlos, California (USA), that is developing and will manufacture piloted all-electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft for fast, quiet, and affordable air taxi services. The company combines elements of helicopters and small airplanes, offering benefits that include high reliability, zero emissions, fast flight speeds, quiet operations, lower operating costs, lower costs of maintenance, and enhanced safety features. The company's projects now include a Joby subscale prototype, the Joby Lotus, the Joby S2 and the Joby S4 2.0 prototype aircraft. The next project is the Joby production air taxi aircraft.
Bevirt studied mechanical engineering and robotics at the University of California, Davis and Stanford University. Bevirt worked for one of the pioneers of VTOL aircraft, Paul Moller. Moller created the Skycar which was featured on the front cover of Popular Mechanics in 1991. Bevirt is a prolific inventor creating a diverse range of commodities, from making useful consumer products, to LED lights, electric motors, eVTOL aircraft and more.
In 1999, Bevirt started a robotics company, Velocity11, that became “wildly successful” building DNA sequencing robots. He sold the robotics company in 2011 to Agilent Technologies, a spinoff of Hewlett-Packard. In 2006, Bevirt founded the consumer products company called Joby (his childhood name) that made the knobby GorillaPod adjustable tripod for cameras and cellphones that proved to be extremely popular and sold the company the next year. He founded Joby Energy in 2008 to develop giant kites to fly into upper-atmosphere winds and generate high-output electricity. To launch these kites, the company designed highly efficient, lightweight, brushless, permanent magnet motors and generators with high power density. Bevirt sold Joby Energy and served for a year as the chairman of Makani Power before it was bought by Google.
Joby Aviation's Lotus was designed in partnership with NASA to demonstrate that a hybrid-electric vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) aircraft would be able to achieve a 24-hour flight endurance. The subscale technology demonstrator was built but never flown.
Lotus (defunct) specifications
The Lotus is a subscale vectored thrust air cargo eVTOL tricopter that has a fixed wing, three propellers and a modified T-tail. The twin bladed wing-tip propellers fold outward in cruise mode, adding lift to the wing. The tail propeller, mounted atop the rudder, tilt forward to become a tractor propeller for powered forward flight. The cruise speed is 71 mph (114 km/h) and has cruise altitude was 10,000 ft (3,048 m). The aircraft has a 4.5 kg battery capable of 2.98 kWs of power, although a full size version would have been hybrid-electric.
The demonstrator's empty weight is 48 lb (21.7 kg), has a payload weight of 7 lb (3.2 kg) and has a maximum takeoff weight 55 lb. The aircraft has wingspan a 11 ft (3.35 m). The demonstrator is expected to be capable of more than an hour’s flight time. Had a full-sized Lotus drone been developed, it would have been roughly twice the size, five times the weight, a 27.2 kg payload and capable of over 24 hours in flight.
In May 2018, the Vertical Flight Society presented Joby Aviation’s CEO, JoeBen Bevirt, its Paul E. Haueter Award, given for an outstanding technical contribution to the field of VTOL aircraft development other than a helicopter or an operational vertical flight aircraft, for all of the company's eVTOL work to date, including successfully demonstrating the world’s first high-speed multi-passenger electric VTOL aircraft, the Joby S4. Joby Aviation also developed the Joby S2 and Monarch concepts prior to the demonstration of the Joby S4.
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