Santa Cruz-based company developing electric aircrafts that would fly over traffic

The vision is to make ride sharing in the air a way to address both congestion and air pollution.
SANTA CRUZ, Calif. (KGO) -- As more people start heading back to the office, traffic congestion is making a comeback.

There's new technology in the works in the Bay Area that could reduce the volume of cars and air pollution at the same time.

Imagine a way to fly over traffic congestion that also produces zero emissions like an electric vehicle.

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The solution is on the horizon, possibly just a few years away. It's an all-electric air taxi developed by Joby Aviation.

"We've been able to build a vertical takeoff and landing aircraft which is safer, which is more than 100 times quieter, and which is many times lower cost to operate. And that is a game changer," said JoeBen Bevirt, founder and CEO of Joby Aviation.

The Santa Cruz-headquartered company says it's about three years away from launching hundreds of these vertical lift aircraft in the Bay Area. Each can hold four passengers plus the pilot, with a range of 150 miles at speeds up to 200 miles an hour.

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More than 1,000 test flights have been done. Joby Aviation has attracted Toyota to be its partner to mass produce them.

The U.S. Air Force has already approved its air worthiness, and a lot of effort has gone into the acoustics.

CEO Bevirt describes the sound as, "A quality of noise which blends into the background, something that's more like the wind in the trees than the low frequency 'whop-whop' of a helicopter or the high frequency whine of a drone."

Where will they pick up and drop off passengers? Skyports will be located atop existing parking structures. A partnership with Uber will deliver passengers to their final destination.

As for cost, Joby Aviation says fares will be similar to a taxi and could come down over time, making it comparable to or less than operating a car. The vision is to make ride sharing in the air a way to address both congestion and air pollution.

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