Joby Aviation Buys Radar Developer Inras

Radar will be key for detect-and-avoidance systems as air taxis navigate across urban landscapes.

oby Aviation has been flight testing full-scale prototypes since 2017.
[Credit: Joby Aviation]

Uber-backed electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft maker Joby Aviation (NYSE:JOBY) has acquired Austria-based radar system developer, Inras GmbH. 

California-based Joby announced the move Tuesday, saying it will expand Joby’s in-house research and development capability for purpose-built radar systems for onboard sensing and navigation.

As eVTOL companies develop short-range electric aircraft to fly amid dense, urban landscapes, radar systems will be crucial for safe operations during all segments of flight—especially takeoff and landing. Inras is a five-person team specializing in the design of radiofrequency (RF) systems, processing boards, real-time signal processing, and advanced radar sensors. 

“We look forward to integrating our advanced sensing technology into Joby’s electric air taxi,” said Inras co-founder Andreas Stelzer in a statement. “The technology we have developed will improve the aircraft’s onboard detection and navigation capabilities in preparation for scaled operations.”

Eventually, eVTOL radar systems will be a critical component of detect-and-avoid technology during autonomous flight. Many emerging air taxi airlines including Joby have said they ultimately intend to operate their aircraft autonomously in the coming decades as soon as certification processes and air traffic management systems allow for it.

Joby and its many competitors are part of the quickly growing eVTOL industry aiming to build fleets of small, zero-emission, hovering aircraft for short hops over traffic-congested cities. 

“As we grow our team here in Linz, we’re thrilled to further develop RF systems that are foundational to the future of sustainable aviation,” Stelzer said in the news release.

The company is currently flight testing a prototype air taxi with the intention of mass producing and operating air taxis for a passenger airline. Joby acquired Uber Elevate in 2020 and plans to piggyback off Uber’s existing rideshare app to book flights and to hail ground vehicles for the first and last miles.

Joby’s experience in flight testing full-scale prototypes goes back to 2017. It has completed more than 1,000 test flights. In July, Joby successfully demonstrated its prototype’s ability to fly 154.6 statute miles for an hour and 17 minutes on a single battery charge. 

Joby says it expects to receive FAA certification for its aircraft in 2023 and to enter service 2024.

Thom is a former senior editor for FLYING. Previously, his freelance reporting appeared in aviation industry magazines. Thom also spent three decades as a TV and digital journalist at CNN’s bureaus in Washington and Atlanta, eventually specializing in aviation. He has reported from air shows in Oshkosh, Farnborough and Paris. Follow Thom on Twitter @thompatterson.

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