Japanese car manufacturer Toyota has been named as the lead investor in Californian-based aerospace company Joby Aviation's latest Series C funding round, which raised $590 million.
Of that total, Toyota contributed $349 million. In the latest funding round, Toyota was also joined by prior investors Toyota AI Ventures, Intel Capital, Sparx Group, Capricorn Investment Group, JetBlue Technology Ventures, and AME Cloud Ventures, as well as new investors Baillie Gifford and Global Oryx.
With this latest funding round and previous funding rounds, Toyota has now invested a total of $720 million in Joby Aviation.
"Air transportation has been a long-term goal for Toyota, and while we continue our work in the automobile business, this agreement sets our sights to the sky," said Toyota president and CEO Akio Toyoda.
"As we take up the challenge of air transportation together with Joby … we hope to deliver freedom of movement and enjoyment to customers everywhere, on land, and now, in the sky."
As part of this latest investment, Toyota executive vice president Shigeki Tomoyama will join Joby Aviation's board of directors, while Joby Aviation will gain access to Toyota's cost controls and engineering and manufacturing expertise as it develops and produces its aircraft.
Joby Aviation has touted its piloted, all-electric five-seater flying vehicle will be capable of reaching speeds of 200 miles per hour, flying over 150 miles on a single charge, both vertical take-off and landing, and operating 100 times quieter than conventional aircraft during take-off and landing.
See also: Autonomous flying taxi firm, backed by Google co-founder, unveils first plane (TechRepublic)
Joby Aviation has been working on developing its vehicles for the last 10 years, with the belief it will be "instrumental in the commercial launch of the emerging on-demand urban air taxi market".
The design follows in the footsteps of Uber and Hyundai's flying taxi that was revealed recently at CES 2020.
Hyundai explained that the "Hyundai vehicle will be piloted initially, but over time they will become autonomous".
Mid-last year, Uber announced that Melbourne was going to be the third pilot city, and the first outside of the United States for its flying taxi service, Uber Air. Test flights have been pencilled in for some time this year, with plans for commercial operations to commence from 2023.
Aside from Australia, Uber has also selected Brazil, France, India, and Japan as other possible launch markets for its flying taxi service.
Uber Air is touted by the company as an "urban aviation ride-sharing product" that will ease traffic congestion on the ground.
The company further signalled its push forward in the flying taxi service space with the appointment of Natalie Malligan as the new head of Uber Air for Australia. She is charged with getting the company's flying taxi service off the ground in Melbourne.
Larry Page's venture says that New Zealand offered the "bold and dynamic" commercial market necessary to launch the air taxi, called Cora.
Zephyr Airworks has been named as the first industry partner to participate in the program.
Tomorrow's flying Uber vehicles will rely on Cesium's open-source 3D geospatial software for its in-air "driving."
The company has asked for cooperation from Australian governments so it can demo Uber Air in the country as early as next year.
In order to process the amount of data needed for fully autonomous flight, Airbus needs a new generation of hardware and software.