Kirkland, Wash.-based Zunum Aero has reportedly started building its first prototype electric airplane motor, and plans to put an upgraded version on a test aircraft in 2019. Word of Zunum’s progress came from CEO Ashish Kumar in a Reuters interview.
Intel Capital led the investment round, which also includes Singapore-based EDBI, JetBlue Technology Ventures, Toyota AI Ventures, Allen & Company AME Cloud Ventures, Ron Conway, Capricorn Investment Group, 8VC, Sky Dayton and Paul Sciarra. Joby also revealed a previously unsecured Series A round, led by Capricorn in 2016, which brings total funding to $130 million.
Founded by inventor JoeBen Bevirt, Joby is working to build a five-seat air taxi that will be 100 times quieter than conventional aircraft during takeoff and landing, and fly 150 miles on a charge. Bloomberg BusinessWeek reports that a prototype for the vehicle, nicknamed “Rachel,” is undergoing flight testing at Bevirt’s private airfield in Northern California.
From the outside, it looked as if the Swiss-led Solar Impulse project smoothly soldiered through adversity as its solar-powered plane made a record-setting trip around the world in 2015 and 2016.
But the perspective was different when seen from the inside: The multimillion-dollar campaign nearly came crashing down when teammates debated whether to go ahead with a crucial Pacific crossing, even though the monitoring system for the autopilot wasn’t working right.
“The engineers were crying,” said Bertrand Piccard, the Swiss psychiatrist and adventurer who served as Solar Impulse’s co-founder, chairman and one of its pilots. “They were begging me to stop.”
The turmoil as well as the technology behind the globe-girdling, fuel-free odyssey are on full display in “The Impossible Flight,” a two-hour NOVA documentary premiering on PBS tonight.
Boeing’s HorizonX venture investment team says it has led a seed funding round for Cuberg, a California startup focusing on next-generation battery technology for potential aerospace and industrial applications.
Among the most relevant applications would be power storage for electric airplanes and underwater drones — both of which are in Boeing’s wheelhouse.
“Cuberg’s battery technology has some of the highest energy density we’ve seen in the marketplace, and its unique chemistries could prove to be a safe, stable solution for future electric air transportation,” Steve Nordlund, vice president of Boeing HorizonX, said today in a statement.