Joby Aviation Acquires Autonomous Flight Technology

Xwing has been flying autonomous aircraft since 2020 using software it developed in-house

Chuck Martin, Editorial Director AI & IoT

June 4, 2024

2 Min Read
Joby Aviation

Electric air taxi company Joby Aviation has acquired the autonomy division of Xwing, which has been developing automated flying technology since 2016.

Xwing has been flying autonomous aircraft since 2020 using software it developed in-house.

Joby has no plans to fly its air taxis without pilots and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has yet to include pilotless passenger-carrying flying taxis in any of its regulations.

“The aircraft we are certifying will have a fully qualified pilot on board, but we recognize that a future generation of autonomous aircraft will play an important part in unlocking our vision of making clean and affordable aerial mobility as accessible as possible,” said JoeBen Bevirt, Joby founder and CEO.

“The exceptionally talented Xwing team has not only made unparalleled progress on the development and certification of vision systems, sensor fusion and decision-making autonomous technologies, but they’ve also successfully demonstrated the real-life application of their technology, flying hundreds of fully autonomous flights in the national airspace.”

Archer Aviation, the other major air taxi company, has an agreement to collaborate on future autonomous flight with Wisk Aero. Boeing last year invested $450 million in Wisk and later acquired the startup, making it a Boeing subsidiary. 

Related:First Flying Taxi Delivered to Air Force

The long-range industry expectation is that passenger-carrying electric aerial vehicles will fly without plots on board. EHang in China already is flying two-passenger, flying vehicles without on-board pilots.

In 2021, Joby acquired Inras GmbH, the developer of high-performance radar sensor technology. 

The Xwing expertise includes perception technology, system integration and certification.

The integration of the companies provides Joby with technology for near-term piloted operations and fully autonomous operations sometime in the future.

A major advantage of the deal is the added relationship with the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD). The U.S. military has been active in exploring the electric aerial revolution.

Joby has been working with the U.S. Air Force and delivered one of its eVTOL (electric vertical takeoff and landing) vehicles to MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Florida, following one delivered to Edwards AirForce Base in California last year.

Joby has a $163 million contract with the DOD AFWERX Agility Prime program and  has been working with the DoD since 2016, when it received early military funding in its development program.

For its military history, Xwing was included in the U.S. Air Force Agile Flag 24-1 Joint Force exercise earlier this year, with its autonomously flying Cessna 208B Grand Caravan aircraft.

Related:Flying Taxi Company Third Stage Certification Approved by FAA

The Xwing acquisition included only the autonomy technology division of Xwing, Inc., with the other airline assets of Xwing not included. The deal was paid with Joby shares with terms not disclosed.

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Flying Cars

About the Author(s)

Chuck Martin

Editorial Director AI & IoT

Chuck Martin, author of "Flying Vehicles," New York Times Business Bestselling author and futurist, is Editorial Director at Informa Tech, home of AI Business, IoT World Today and Enter Quantum. Martin has been a leader in emerging digital technologies for more than two decades. He is considered one of the foremost emerging technology experts in the world and his latest book title "Flying Vehicles" (The Emergence of Personal Air Travel, Flying Cars, and Air Taxis) followed "Digital Transformation 3.0" (The New Business-to-Consumer Connections of The Internet of Things).  He hosts a worldwide podcast titled “The Voices of the Internet of Things with Chuck Martin,” where he converses with top executives from the companies driving the adoption of emerging technology.

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