Traffic > Transit

Toyota to make air transportation available to the masses

The next frontier of urban transport will be hovering above us

It looks like the Vios of tomorrow will have propellers. PHOTO FROM TOYOTA

Toyota vehicles are mass-transit workhorses around the world. Hail a cab in New York and it will likely be a yellow Camry plying its trade in the Big Apple. In Manila, booking a car using Grab will almost always give you a Vios. However, the Japanese automaker has a vision that literally goes higher than land transport.

In collaboration with electric aircraft specialist Joby Aviation, Toyota is taking urban transport skyward with an electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) flying taxi. This is in response to a projected rise in demand for urban air vehicles as a means to reduce traffic congestion. Toyota couldn’t have picked a better time to do this as other carmakers are conducting similar studies.

While competing designs are very much still on the drawing board, the difference with Joby is that the company already has a working prototype. They’ve apparently been at it for the past decade, even claiming that the aircraft has been undergoing flight tests since 2017 in preparation for the Federal Aviation Administration’s formal certification process.

The electric propulsion system has quite a bit of grunt to it: It can quietly cruise at 322km/h and fly 241km on a single charge

The multi-engine tilt-rotor aircraft is said to operate like a helicopter, with the ability to take off and land vertically, and transition to and from horizontal flight. The teardrop-shaped cabin appears to be inspired by the MD 500E helicopter and can seat four. Aside from its obvious eco-friendly advantage, the electric propulsion system has quite a bit of grunt to it. It can quietly cruise at 322km/h and fly 241km on a single charge.

Toyota’s years of experience in quality control, manufacturing and cost-control measures will come into play in this project. It is expected that a fleet of these aircraft will be deployed as ride-share vehicles since Joby is one of Uber Elevate’s vehicle partners.

Miggi Solidum

Professionally speaking, Miggi is a software engineering dude who happens to like cars a lot. And as an automotive enthusiast, he wants a platform from which he can share his motoring thoughts with fellow petrolheads. He pens the column ‘G-Force’.