Californian electric vertical take-off aircraft developer Joby Aviation has announced a partnership with major US parking company REEF Technology to develop takeoff and landing sites for its aerial ridesharing service, which it expects to launch in 2024.
REEF’s assets include more than 5,000 car parking sites across North America and Europe and the deal could transform what are often underutilised assets into multi-use mobility hubs.
The partnership also includes NPG, a real estate acquisition company affiliated with REEF for the targeted acquisition of mobility hubs across the United States.
Through the arrangement, Joby gains access to an unparalleled range of rooftop locations across all key metropolitan areas in the US, as well as a mechanism to fund the acquisition and development of new skyport sites. The companies will focus initially on Los Angeles, Miami, and the New York and San Francisco Bay Area metropolitan areas.
With an aircraft that is expected to be more than 100 times quieter than a conventional helicopter, Joby sees a significant opportunity to deliver its aerial ridesharing service from downtown locations, repurposing the often dormant top level of many parking garage structures.
Joby says parking garages are particularly well-suited to hosting skyports, as they:
- Are typically located near popular destinations
- Have adequate space to host customers, flight operations, and aircraft charging
- Do not require structural reinforcement to support air taxi services
- Provide obstruction-free approach and departure paths that minimize noise to the surrounding community
- Are naturally suited to becoming mobility hubs, supporting seamless connectivity to micromobility, public transit, parking, and ridesharing
“This is a landmark deal on Joby’s path to building a transformational ridesharing service in our skies,” said JoeBen Bevirt, founder and CEO at Joby Aviation. “NPG and REEF have an unbeatable network of sites across the US and we’re excited to be working with them to identify sites that will become the backbone of our future service.
“Parking structures are ideal locations for us as they allow us to deliver our customers as close to their destination as possible, while minimizing any local impact and reducing the need for building new infrastructure.”
Philippe Saint-Just, co-founder of REEF, said: “With our focus on transforming urban spaces into community hubs that enable the future of mobility, aerial ridesharing is a compelling opportunity for us to decarbonise travel and make better use of structures such as parking garages.
Under the agreement, Joby will enjoy a period of exclusivity during which it can secure long-term rooftop leases on skyport sites within NPG and REEF’s network of parking garages.
Joby intends to offer a passenger service, accessible via an app, that offers riders a faster, emissions-free way to move distances of 5-150 miles in congested metropolitan areas at an accessible price point.
In December 2020, Joby announced the acquisition of Uber Elevate, integrating the team’s data, modeling, and insight into site selection.
As part of the deal, Uber and Joby also agreed to integrate their services into each other’s apps, helping to create a seamless customer experience where an Uber car would bring riders to a skyport just in time for their flight and, if necessary, another car would complete the journey to their final destination.