NASA kicked off testing of an all-electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft that could eventually fly cargo and passengers around busy cities in the not too distant future. 

The U.S. space agency teamed up with electric aircraft startup Joby Aviation to conduct developmental flight tests of the company’s six-rotor air taxi near Big Sur, Calif. 

The collaboration is part of NASA’s Advanced Air Mobility (AAM) National Campaign, which is working to develop air taxis, drones and other types of aircraft to move people and goods in cities and surrounding areas around the country. 

During the test flights, NASA will collect data on how the aircraft moves, sounds and communicates with controllers. 

The sound part is particularly important for air taxis meant to fly around heavily populated areas. Joby Aviation says its aircraft is much quieter than traditional gas-powered helicopters, claiming it’s “quiet enough to land in your neighborhood.” 


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NASA said the tests will also aid the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in writing new regulations for aircraft like the air taxi. 

“These testing scenarios will help inform gaps in current standards to benefit the industry’s progress of integrating AAM vehicles into the airspace,” Davis Hackenberg, NASA AAM mission integration manager, said in a release

Joby’s aircraft can reach speeds of up to 200 miles per hour and has a 150 mile range. The vertical takeoff and landing feature gives the aircraft flexibility in where it can operate. 

The space agency plans to carry out similar tests with other eVTOL companies in the future. 

Tests started Monday and will run through Sept. 10. The space agency plans to carry out similar tests with other eVTOL companies in the future. 


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