Joby, NASA simulate weaving air taxis into busy airport activity

A new computer simulation is helping NASA and Joby Aviation better understand how air taxis and other electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) vehicles can fly at the country’s busiest airports.

NASA and Joby said the recent exercise took place at NASA’s Ames Research Center in California.

Joby is the company that plans to build a facility capable of producing up to 500 eVTOL aircraft per year at a 140-acre site at Dayton International Airport.

JoeBen Bevirt, founder and chief executive of Joby, aims to have his company’s quiet, battery-powered flying vehicles entering commercial air taxi service by 2025.

In the meantime, the market and an array of regulatory hurdles need to be better understood. NASA and Joby said they recently had representatives from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the National Association of Air Traffic Controllers and others view a simulation at NASA’s Ames’ air traffic control simulation facility, called FutureFlight Central.

According to NASA, the two-story facility offers a 360-degree simulation of an airport, where airport personnel can test operating procedures and evaluate technologies, NASA said.

“We’re trying to enable a better quality of life,” Savvy Verma, urban air mobility researcher at NASA Ames, said in an account of the event from NASA. “Some people are stuck in traffic for hours on the way to the airport. A 12-mile trip can take 45 minutes. Imagine being able to do that same trip in 15 minutes.”

“This simulation validates the idea that we can find a way to safely integrate these vehicles into the airspace at scale,” NASA researcher Ken Freeman said in a release.

The work is helping researchers understand better how to integrate air taxis or “flying cars” into the country’s busiest airports.

“This is an important step towards the scaled commercialization of air taxis in the National Airspace System,” Joby said in a statement to the Dayton Daily News.

NASA is expected to publish an analysis of the simulation results next year.

Questions about the exercise and Joby’s progress toward its Dayton facility were sent to a Joby representative.

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