NASA began its test flights with Joby Aviation's aircraft this Monday, September 6. The all-electric vehicle is part of the Advanced Air Mobility (AAM) National Campaign to hopefully serve as air taxis in the future.
Though normally known for its space missions, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is also very much focused on its civilian aerospace research.
NASA Air Taxis: Vehicle Design and Specs
NASA is conducting a five-day-long flight test with the all-electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft from Joby Aviation. This is the first time NASA has tested an eVTOL aircraft as part of their Advanced Air Mobility (AAM) National Campaign. The goal is to have eVTOL aircraft serve as air taxis for those in cities and surrounding areas around the country, NASA explained. eVTOL aircraft serves as another mode of transportation for moving people and goods.
The goal of these flight tests is to collect vehicle performance and data for use in modeling and simulation of future airspace concepts.
The aircraft resembles a large version of a six-rotor drone. Fifty different microphones from a type of mobile acoustic center are tracking the aircraft to collect data on the noise it would make. It also tests how the vehicle communicates with controllers.
According to Science Alert, noise is an important factor in the adoption of autonomous CTOL flight. Having an aircraft so close to civilians with the same amount of noise as a jet engine is not pleasant. Aside from public acceptance of the aircraft, regulations for autonomous flight from bodies like the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) are also crucial.
This test is going to be one of many that will disrupt the aviation industry in the future.
It electric! ⚡— NASA Langley Research Center (@NASA_Langley) September 3, 2021
NASA began flight testing with Joby Aviation’s all-electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft as part of the agency’s Advanced Air Mobility (AAM) National Campaign! Learn more about the campaign and testing: https://t.co/N6ECp4btBC pic.twitter.com/jZsA5NoLb8
AAM National Campaign
The AAM National campaign is critical in the scientific understanding and public acceptance of eVTOL aircraft, founder and CEO of Joby Aviation Joe Ben Bevirt explained.
The campaign has the Joby aircraft fly planned test scenarios now, the first round of testing to see its viability for commercial passenger service in the future. All this is in preparation for the first set of campaign tests known as NC-1 which is scheduled for 2022. This series of tests will comprise more complex flight scenarios and other industrial vehicles.
The AAM will provide an efficient and affordable system for passenger and cargo transportation along with other applications in the public interest. The system, in the future, could include different aircraft like package delivery drones, air taxis, and medical transport vehicles.
The AAM National Campaign is managed by the Advanced Air Mobility project of NASA. The project plans to be a community catalyst for developing and validating system-level concepts and solutions for AAM.
Our prototype #eVTOL aircraft, pictured with its props in cruise configuration at our new manufacturing facility in Marina, California. We added LED lights to the blade tips to capture this amazing visual!#electrictransportation pic.twitter.com/9CwA1SBErr— Joby Aviation (@jobyaviation) August 30, 2021
Where to Watch NASA Joby Air Taxi Flight Test
The Joby aircraft was able to fly more than 150 miles in its last test flight which was posted by Joby Aviation on their YouTube chanel last July 27, 2021.
As the current flight tests at Joby's Electric Flight Base located near Big Sur, California are still in progress until September 10, no footage or data from those current tests are available to the public currently.