NASA has a plan to enhance their cargo and passenger air transportation options, and this is one their first steps.
NASA have teamed up with Joby Aviation, an electric aircraft company, to design and test the air taxis. The partnership launched the massive Advanced Air Mobility (AAM) National Campaign.
According to NASA’s press release, the test flights will help NASA keep a lookout for “information about how the vehicle moves, how the vehicle sounds, and how the vehicle communicates with controllers.” To do this, the air taxis will enact various scenarios planned out and developed by Joby Aviation.
Additionally, over 50 microphones to measure the acoustics of the air taxi during flight, likely to see how comfortable it will be for passenger’s ears and provide the quietest experience possible.
The data from these tests will serve to establish the baseline standards that future vehicles and flights will build upon. These are essentially the first generation of prototypes of air taxis that are hoped to become available to consumers in the future. Joby themselves will be evaluating NASA’s own processes of determining safety and the approval of passengers to ensure that both entities are providing the safest possible experience.
“These testing scenarios will help inform gaps in current standards to benefit the industry’s progress of integrating AAM vehicles into the airspace,” said Davis Hackenberg, NASA AAM mission integration manager.
NASA hopes to provide a future where air taxis provide an affordable commercial service that can transport passengers and goods throughout cities and the areas surrounding them. NASA claim that their potential AAM system could encompass services like package delivery drones, air taxis and medical transport vehicles.”
These vehicles are completely electric with zero operating emissions. They can carry one pilot and four passengers, are capable of vertical take-off and landing, has a 150+ mile range, and a top speed of 200mph.
This is not dissimilar to the flying cars we’ve seen popping up, like the “AirCar,” that aim to provide similar service to NASA’s. The difference is that NASA are not attempting to create a car that can both drive on the road and fly in the air.
It seems like the future is around the corner.