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Inside Joby’s Unicorn: Recent Flood of Patents Reveal New Details
  • 01 Nov 2020 09:17 AM
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Inside Joby’s Unicorn: Recent Flood of Patents Reveal New Details

By Kenneth I. Swartz

Joby ¾-view drawing

Still sticking to its 2023 certification date — and supporting Uber Elevate’s 2023 in-service date — Joby Aviation has been stealthily advancing its electric air taxi technology to support its first-to-market product strategy.

Founded in 2009, Joby has long been recognized by experts as the leading pioneer in the development of electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) technology, but the company stopped sharing details of its activities in 2016 as other companies began catching up.

Although the company is valued at more than $1B — known as a unicorn — many people who have not been following their progress chronicled in the Vertical Flight Society’s Vertiflite magazine and eVTOL.news website had remained ignorant of how far ahead the company was until their announcement in January that they had received $720M in funding from companies such as Toyota.

Like many start up technology companies, these pioneers of the eVTOL industry have kept many details of their aircraft development programs very close, in order to maintain tight control of their intellectual property (IP).

However, there comes a point in the life of every tech start up needs to start filing patents to protect its proprietary technology. Recent patent application publications provide significantly more details regarding Joby’s air taxi aircraft and control systems that have only been hinted at in public forums.

Joby air taxi top view drawing

With its unveiling in January (and the exclusive keynote given at the VFS Electric VTOL Symposium later that month), Joby gave the public the first glimpses into their progress. Followed by more details released through Aviation Week in September, Joby has also been revealing more information through patent filings.

In October, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) published several patents, part of more than a dozen patents filed since Dec. 2019 (see below). Some of these update earlier patent applications dating back to 2015, while others are entirely new.

Most notably, the patent application for an “Aircraft Control System and Method” is probably the most revealing, since it describes Joby’s unified command system in detail and contains the first publicly available drawings of the Joby 2.0 tilt-propeller eVTOL (compare to drawings released in 2015 of the 1.0 configuration), showing it in VTOL, transition, airplane and conventional takeoff and landing (CTOL) configurations, as well as drawings of a sample control inceptor.

Joby tilting mechanism drawing

Led by former British Royal Air Force (RAF) test pilot Justin Paines, Joby representatives have been praising unified control system installed in the short takeoff and vertical landing (STOVL) Lockheed Martin F-35B Joint Strike Fighter to reduce pilot workload and increase safety.

Joby’s unified command system includes an input mechanism, flight processor, a control output and effectors (control surfaces, power levels) that are articulated by the control output. Joby says the system can also accommodate optional sensors that will determine the vehicle state and or/flight regime and flightpath.

The application was filed in the name of JoeBen Bevirt and Blake English. Bevirt is the founder and CEO of Joby (and 2018 recipient of the VFS Paul E. Haueter Award), and English has worked for Joby since 2016 as an engineer, test pilot and flight operations leader (and previously invented a family of radio controlled lighter-than-air flying toys that look like fish, called Air Swimmers).

Below are the patents and applications with Bevirt as an "inventor" in reverse date order, with the Oct 22 application containing the line drawings. 

 

Joby Aero, Inc. Patents Applications (as of Nov. 1, 2020)

Date Filed          Patent (PDF)    Assignee    Patent (html without images)
Oct 29, 2020   20,200,339,010   Joby   Battery thermal management system
Oct 22 2020   20,200,333,805   Joby   Aircraft control system and method
Oct 22, 2020   20,200,331,602   Joby   Rotary airfoil and design method therefor
Oct 15, 2020   20,200,324,910   Joby   System and method for airspeed determination
Oct 8, 2020   20,200,317,328   Joby   Lightweight vertical take-off and landing aircraft
Oct 8, 2020   20,200,317,353   Joby   Lightweight VTOL aircraft with pivoting rotors and wing box design
Aug 27, 2020   20,200,269,990   Joby   System And Method For Aircraft Noise Mitigation
June 25, 2020   20,200,201,359   Joby   Vehicle Navigation System
May 28, 2020   20,200,164,993   Joby   Aerodynamically Efficient Lightweight Vertical Take-Off And Landing Aircraft With Pivoting Rotors And Stowing Rotor Blades
May 14, 2020   20,200,148,347   Joby   Electric Tiltrotor Aircraft
Mar 19, 2020   20,200,092,052   Joby   Aircraft Control System
Mar 12, 2020   20,200,079,500   Joby   Fast Response Electric Propulsion System And Lightweight Vertical Take-Off And Landing Aircraft Using Same
Mar 12, 2020   20,200,079,502   Joby   Articulated Electric Propulsion System With Fully Stowing Blades And Lightweight Vertical Take-Off And Landing Aircraft Using Sa
Feb 27, 2020   20,200,062,416   Joby   System And Method For Airspeed Determination
Jan 9, 2020   20,200,010,187   Joby   Electric Power System Architecture And Fault Tolerant Vtol Aircraft Using Same
Dec 12, 2019   20,190,375,500   Joby   Articulated Electric Propulsion System With Fully Stowing Blades And Lightweight Vertical Take-Off And Landing Aircraft Using Sa
Oct 31, 2019   20,190,329,858   Joby   Aircraft Drag Reduction System And Internally Cooled Electric Motor System And Aircraft Using Same
Oct 31, 2019   20,190,329,859   Joby   Aircraft Drag Reduction System And Internally Cooled Motor System And Aircraft Using Same

 

Joby Aero, Inc. Patents Granted (as of Nov. 1, 2020)

Date Granted    Patent (PDF)   Assignee    Patent (html without images)
July 14, 2020   10,710,741   Joby   System and method for airspeed determination
April 21, 2020   10,625,852   Joby   Aerodynamically efficient lightweight vertical take-off and landing aircraft with pivoting rotors and stowing rotor blades
Feb 11, 2020   10,556,700   Joby   Aerodynamically efficient lightweight vertical take-off and landing aircraft with pivoting rotors and stowing rotor blades
Nov 19, 2019   10,479,490   Joby   Multi-configuration autonomous platform with mounted camera
June 11, 2019   10,315,760   Joby   Articulated electric propulsion system with fully stowing blades and lightweight vertical take-off and landing aircraft using same
Aug 14, 2018   10,046,855   Joby   Impact resistant propeller system, fast response electric propulsion system and lightweight vertical take-off and landing aircraft using same
July 31, 2018   10,035,587   Joby   Aerodynamically efficient lightweight vertical take-off and landing aircraft with multi-configuration wing tip mounted rotors
July 4, 2017   9,694,911   Joby   Aerodynamically efficient lightweight vertical take-off and landing aircraft with pivoting rotors and stowing rotor blades
Dec 26, 2016   9,527,581   Joby   Aerodynamically efficient lightweight vertical take-off and landing aircraft with multi-configuration wing tip mounted rotors
May 27, 2014   8,733,690   Joby   Lightweight vertical take-off and landing aircraft and flight control paradigm using thrust differentials

 

JoeBen Bevirt patents with other assignees (as of Nov. 1, 2020)

Date Granted    Patent (PDF)    Assignee    Patent (html without images)
Sept 29, 2020   10,791,257   GoPro   Positioning apparatus for photographic and video imaging and recording and system utilizing the same
Oct 29, 2010   10,462,347   GoPro   Positioning apparatus for photographic and video imaging and recording and system utilizing the same
July 10, 2018   10,021,286   GoPro   Positioning apparatus for photographic and video imaging and recording and system utilizing the same
Mar 27, 2018   9,930,298   -   Tracking of dynamic object of interest and active stabilization of an autonomous airborne platform mounted camera
Dec 5, 2017   9,834,362   Mixt Beverages   Multi-chambered substance container
Sep 13, 2016   9,441,781   Motrr   Positioning apparatus for photographic and video imaging and recording and system utilizing same
June 3, 2014   8,740,160   Daymen   Mounting apparatus using ball and socket joints with gripping features
April 15, 2014   8,696,153   Daymen   Flashlight with mounting apparatus
Mar 19, 2013   8,400,346   Glass Wind   Method and apparatus for locating a golf ball with doppler radar
Feb 5, 2013   8,366,341   Daymen   Attachment clips for support structures
Oct 30, 2012   8,297,566   Day Men   Mounting apparatus using ball and socket joints with composite connectors
Aug 28, 2012   8,251,536   DayMen   Flashlight with mounting apparatus
Jan 17, 2012   8,096,026   Joby Photo   Accessory clips and mounting apparatus using same
Jan 3, 2012   8,087,836   Joby Photo   Miniature mounting apparatus
Feb 22, 2011   7,891,615   Joby Photo   Mounting apparatus using ball and socket joints with gripping features
Dec 14, 2010   7,850,130   -   Support arm with reversed elastic and inelastic ranges
Mar 31, 2009   D589,332   Joby Photo   Suction cup clip
Mar 10, 2009   7,500,853   Immersion   Mechanical interface for a computer system
Sept 9, 2008   D576,659   Joby Photo   Clip attachment for a tripod
Aug 12, 2008   D574,700   Joby Photo   Ball and socket connector
July 31, 2007   7,249,951   Immersion   Method and apparatus for providing an interface mechanism for a computer simulation
May 25, 2004   6,739,448   Incyte   Method and apparatus for shuttling microtitre plates
Mar 16, 2004   6,705,871   Immersion   Method and apparatus for providing an interface mechanism for a computer simulation
June 24, 2003   6,582,664   Incyte   Multichannel pipette head
June 4, 2002   6,399,024   Incyte   Multichannel pipette head
Dec 4, 2001   6,325,114   Incyte   Pipetting station apparatus
Oct 30, 2001   6,309,891   Incyte   Capillary printing systems
Feb 27, 2001   6,193,102   Incyte   Plate stacker apparatus
Oct 30, 2008   6,063,579   Incyte   Alignment mechanism
Feb 15, 2000   6,024,576   Immersion   Hemispherical, high bandwidth mechanical interface for computer systems 

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