Imagine it’s Valentine’s Day again and this year you want to take your significant other somewhere special but you don’t want to drive for hours is congested traffic just to get there. Enter Joby Aviation with their S2 and S4 personal air transportation vehicles. Joby CEO and founder JoeBen Bevirt has been working and developing the S2 two-seat electric aircraft for the last 10 years.
The S2 uses twelve different propellers and sensors which allow it to perform vertical take off and landings. The S2 can achieve speeds of up to 200 miles per hour and has a battery life of one hour. So in ideal conditions, the S2 can travel up to 200 miles on a single battery charge which puts it in the weekend-getaway or even the commuter vehicle range. Currently the S2 and S4 are piloted crafts but essentially the goal of Joby Aviation is to create drones for people for short haul air travel, however, there are many obstacles to this goal.
First and foremost is the legal aspect. Drones are not looked upon well yet in the light of the law. The Federal Aviation Administration is currently reluctant to allow trials for drones to deliver packages like with Amazon’s Prime service. There is no chance that they will allow for super-drones to deliver people. New legislature needed to grow almost ahead of the technology and because it did not, the legal issues will take an estimated seven to ten years to resolve.
Technologically speaking there are some hurdles as well. Bevirt wants to build a quiet, safe, and efficient aircraft that will get you to your destination five times faster than just ground transportation. However, if the aircraft is too loud, then the product is dead before it hits the market. Bevirt has a goal to make his aircraft 100 times quieter than a helicopter putting it roughly at 65 decibels at 240 feet altitude.
There are also infrastructure issues as this technology will make use of heliports for landing and taking off. Even big cities like San Fransisco only have six in the entire city which makes it unlikely to be a commuter mode of transportation at least for now. Bevirt quotes the S2 price tag at $200k which is comparable to, yet is much cheaper than the Robinson R22 helicopter. The dream is big and that’s what we’re all about here at TeamUV. For more information here is the technical paper to the S2 aircraft: http://www.jobyaviation.com/S2ConceptualDesign(AIAA).pdf