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Joby Aviation Raises $100M in Series B Round, Led by Intel and Toyota

Author: Michael Cheng   

Flying cars are due to take off this year, with numerous companies in the industry preparing to test their first prototypes in closed environments. So far, one startup has emerged from the group as a unique contender with over 10 years of experience developing VTOL-powered aircrafts: Joby Aviation.

The company recently completed a Series B financing round, worth $100 million. Intel Capital, EDBI, JetBlue Technology Ventures and Toyota AI Ventures led the funding event. Joby Aviation plans to use the newly acquired funds to streamline product development, hire new engineers and enhance flight certification.

"We're in the hard business of vehicle development because the right vehicle is the linchpin to opening up a new market for short-hop air transportation," said the company.

Series B Funding Round

The startup's latest financing round attracted numerous participants. In addition to the above companies, Allen & Company, AME Cloud Ventures and Ron Conway also joined the event as investors. In total, Joby Aviation has raised more than $130 million, spread over two financing rounds. The first Series A round, which was led by Palo Alto-based Capricorn Investment Group (invested in Tesla and TrueCar) in 2016, resulted fresh funding worth $30 million.

"People waste billions of hours sitting on roads worldwide each year," said JoeBen Bevirt, CEO of Joby Aviation.

"We envision a future where commuting by eVTOL is a safer, faster, and cost-competitive alternative to ground transportation. We have spent the last 10 years developing the technologies that have made our full-scale technical demonstrator possible and are now ready to build a commercial version of the aircraft."

The company's current prototype under development is the Joby S2. Equipped with 16 electric propellers, the VTOL-powered aircraft's wings are designed to fold up for aerial gliding maneuvers. Such features, coupled with the unit's electrified engine, allows it to consume up to five times less energy during flight.

Tough Road Ahead

Joby Aviation currently has its hands full, as flying cars are still far from materializing on a commercial level. But instead of inflating the idea of on-demand, aerial transportation, the company is focusing on addressing back-end challenges associated with emerging technologies.

According to the startup, there are three main roadblocks for businesses in the nascent sector. The first one is building a working VTOL-powered aircraft, which is where all establishments in the industry are stuck in. This category also includes infrastructure and regulation.

The second challenge is developing a transportation service for urban locations. Ultimately, this step involves the management of multiple aerial fleets, via control centers around the city. The last major hurdle is scaling the service, so that prices can be affordable, allowing commuters to use flying cars daily (or as often as they want to).

When Joby S2 hits commercial markets, it should cost roughly $20,000. Operational costs should be considerably lesser, compared to a traditional helicopter, due to the aircraft's electric engine. Interestingly, the Joby S2 is very suitable for urban environments because it flies without making a lot of noise. The unit can travel up to 150 miles per charge.

Michael Cheng
Michael Cheng is a legal editor and technical writer with publications for Blackberry ISHN Magazine Houzz and Payment Week. He specializes in technology business and digesting hard data. Outside of work Michael likes to train for marathons spend time with his daughter and explore new places.
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