Flying Car Makers Want to Build ‘Uber Meets Tesla in the Air’

Reid Hoffman, the venture capitalist and LinkedIn co-founder, is an investor behind the SPAC that is merging with Joby. I have admired the vehicle’s cool factor. “It’s like Uber meets Tesla in the air,” he said, taking vc speak to the skies. But he was most attracted to the company’s potential to redefine cities, commutes and gridlock for a broad group of people.

Of the three going public, Joby is the only one whose prototype is now flying. And both its rivals are facing questions over their technology. One has been sued by Wisk, accused of intellectual property theft after poaching several engineers, and the other recently abandoned a prototype because of a battery fire.

Some believe that even with pilots in the cockpit, these companies will be hard pressed to launch services by 2024. “There is a big gap between flying an aircraft and being ready for revenue,” said Dan Patt, who worked on similar technology at the Department of Defense.

Flying cars may reach the market over the next several years. But they will not look or operate like the flying cars in the Jetsons. More likely, they will operate like helicopters, with pilots flying people from landing pad to landing pad for a fee.

They will be greener than helicopters and require less maintenance. They will be quieter, at least a little. And they may eventually be cheaper. One day, they could even fly on their own.

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