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Uber sells its flying-taxi business to another flying-taxi business

Uber has abandoned its effort to build a so-called “flying car,” taking it out of the race to launch an air-taxi service.

Joby Aviation, which is developing its own all-electric, vertical take-off and landing passenger aircraft (eVTOL), has agreed to acquire Uber’s flying-car unit — Uber Elevate — for an undisclosed sum, Joby announced on Tuesday, December 8.

As part of the deal, Uber has agreed to invest $75 million in Joby, which follows a previously undisclosed $50 million investment by Uber in January 2020. The two companies have also agreed to integrate their respective services into each other’s apps, “enabling seamless integration between ground and air travel for future customers,” Joby said.

The news comes just a day after it was revealed that Uber is selling its autonomous-car unit to Silicon Valley startup Aurora, which is developing its own technology for self-driving vehicles. As with Joby, Uber will make a large financial investment in Aurora, signaling that despite its decision to move away from any direct involvement in the sector, its interest in the technology as a way to support future plans remains strong.

Uber launched Elevate in 2016, but the company is now focusing on its core businesses of ridesharing and meal delivery in an effort to become profitable.

Air-taxi market

A growing number of companies are racing to develop eVTOL aircraft with a view to launching flying-taxi services in urban areas. Joby Aviation, which has emerged as one of the leading players in the field, has received $820 million of funding to date, a chunk of it from Japanese car giant Toyota.

Joby is aiming to launch a taxi service for the skies by 2023, offering what it says will be“an affordable, quiet, and clean transportation service.”

Its current aircraft design (below) has a range of 150 miles and a top speed of 200 mph. Six electric motors power the flying machine, which can seat up to five people.

Joby Aviation

Commenting on the Uber Elevate deal, Joby Aviation founder and CEO JoeBen Bevirt said: “The team at Uber Elevate has not only played an important role in our industry, they have also developed a remarkable set of software tools that build on more than a decade of experience enabling on-demand mobility. These tools and new team members will be invaluable to us as we accelerate our plans for commercial launch.”

Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi added: “Advanced air mobility has the potential to be exponentially positive for the environment and future generations. This deal allows us to deepen our partnership with Joby, the clear leader in this field, to accelerate the path to market for these technologies.”

Check out some of the other amazing flying-taxi designs currently in development. The industry has certainly come a very long way since this ramshackle effort first took to the skies (just).

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Trevor Mogg
Contributing Editor
Not so many moons ago, Trevor moved from one tea-loving island nation that drives on the left (Britain) to another (Japan)…
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