Will on-demand air taxis be flying the Miami skies and coming soon to a rooftop near you? The competition for first mover advantage is heating up.
Today’s announcement: Palo Alto-based Archer Aviation, a leading developer of an Urban Air Mobility ecosystem and all-electric vertical takeoff and landing aircraft, will be partnering with Miami-based REEF Technology to develop plans for urban takeoff and landing sites.
REEF is the largest operator of mobility and logistics hubs in the US with some 4,800 parking garages. Archer and REEF will work together to allow Archer’s aircraft to access rooftop sites across some of the most densely populated and heavily congested urban city locations, including Miami and Los Angeles, the company’s first two planned launch markets.
This is the second Miami-focused announcement by Archer, a startup with Florida roots. Archer, in partnership with the City of Miami, announced in March its commitment to launch an Urban Air Mobility network in Miami in 2024. Archer confirmed today that the startup is still on track to meet that timeline.
Archer is focusing on relatively short hops in high-density metro areas for its eVTOL service and seeks to repurpose existing infrastructure to avoid creating additional density problems. Using Prime Radiant, the company’s proprietary data science technology, Archer will determine optimal landing sites within REEF’s existing network for takeoff, landing and charging.
“Archer is focused on developing urban aerial ridesharing networks that will ease the issues caused by excessive city congestion,” said Adam Goldstein, co-founder and co-CEO of Archer, in a statement. “We believe that working with REEF will allow us to accelerate our mission to transition congested urban areas to more sustainable forms of transportation. The ability to build out our early vertiports with light retrofitting of existing structures would allow us to scale operations while maintaining our focus on affordability for our customers. We’re thrilled to announce this strategic relationship as we continue to execute on our roadmap towards bringing urban air mobility to reality.”
Archer unveiled its test vehicle, Maker, last month both live in Los Angeles and via a Hollywood-style immersive experience to a global audience. The vehicle (pictured below) can travel distances of up to 60 miles at 150 mph.
In an interview with Refresh earlier this year, Brett Adcock, also co-founder and co-CEO, said a 12-mile trip from MIA to South Beach could take just 10 minutes via eVTOL, for example and the cost? “For the initial launch, our goal is to operate the aircrafts over a network and use a ride-sharing structure to reduce costs. We plan to go to market at pricing that is comparable to ride share services — around $3.30 per passenger mile — but over time as we advance manufacturing techniques and refine our supply chain, costs will continue to go down.”
Archer has strong Florida ties – its co-founders are graduates of University of Florida and the company is named after Archer Road in Gainesville, the area where the startup was first incubated. The venture-funded startup counts A-Rod Corp and Jennifer Lopez among its investors, as well as United Airlines, which already has a $1 billion order in. In February, Archer announced it plans to merge with publicly traded company Atlas Crest Investment Corp., a SPAC.
REEF obviously is a big believer in the future of air taxis. Joby Aviation, another California-based company developing all-electric aircraft for commercial passenger service, announced in June it partnered with REEF and its affiliated real estate company Neighborhood Property Group to develop takeoff and landing sites for its aerial ridesharing service. Joby’s plan is also to launch the service in 2024, with Miami as one of its initial markets. Lilium, a German company, last fall announced it planned to build a Florida network of so-called vertiports, but hasn’t announced a Miami location yet.
Separately, yesterday REEF announced plans to hire more than 1,000 people over the next three years in the Miami area.
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