5 SoCal Startups Reimagining Transportation

Lawren Henderson
Staff Writer at Cluster

Cluster is the first marketplace for hardware companies to hire full-time engineers. Hire talent with expertise honed at top companies in climate tech, aerospace, automotive, robotics and more.

Now arriving – the future of transit. We're spotlighting 5 SoCal startups currently reimagining the way we move. From flying motorcycles straight out of Star Wars to air taxis to electric airplanes, these trailblazers are actively developing technologies that will change everything we know about transportation.

Alpha Aerospace

Ontario, CA

Founded in 2017

Alpha Aerospace designs and manufactures modular drone platforms for research projects and commercial operations. The startup is readying to launch its flagship LOTUS-I UAV which utilizes swappable hardware and an open-source flight controller for maximum adaptability. Even cooler, smart drones integrated with machine learning and artificial intelligence are on the way. The company is self-funded by its engineer founder and counts less than ten employees.

JetPack Aviation

Van Nuys, CA

Founded in 2016

JetPack Aviation bills itself as the leader in personal vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) flight. The company is the maker of the world’s only portable FAA-approved JetPack, which its founder and aviator, David Mayman, demonstrated in a historic flight around the Statue of Liberty. In continuing its innovation of futuristic VTOL crafts, company engineers are developing Star Wars-inspired flying motorcycles for recreational and military use. Y Combinator is backing the latest venture with $150K.

Joby Aviation

Santa Cruz, CA

Founded in 2009

Flying cars are one step closer to becoming a reality thanks to Joby Aviation. The air taxi startup is a pioneer in the development of electric VTOL vehicle prototypes, which some have described as a cross between a drone and a small plane. Investors see potential in the innovation, with Joby recently announcing $100 million in Series B funding to help bring a commercial version of the air taxi to market. The company has more than 200 employees and over 100 active career openings.


Hayward, CA

Founded in 2016Skyrse is reshaping urban transportation with an air shuttle service that seeks to bring fast, affordable, cross-city helicopter rides mainstream. With door-to-door service, Skyrse lets customers hail a car/helicopter/car combo that skips traffic (mostly) and drops passengers off at their final destination in a fraction of the time of a traditional commute. 29-year-old founder Mark Groden hopes to one day offer autonomous flying taxis, and employs a small team with backgrounds at Space X, Boeing, Airbus and NASA to help realize his vision. The startup has raised $25 million led by Venrock.

Wright Electric Airplanes

Los Angeles, CA

Founded in 2016

Imagine a Chevy Volt with wings, that’s the future of airplanes as designed by Wright Electric. The company is pioneering lower-emission air travel with the development of hybrid electric airplanes for the commercial market. While small, the startup is expanding, and has raised $120K in funding over 4 rounds with Y Combinator coming on board as lead investor. Wright has plans to eventually produce all-electric commercial aircraft, and is collabing with budget European airline EasyJet in developing its current prototypes.

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Published on
August 18, 2019