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As urban traffic gets more miserable, entrepreneurs are looking to a future in which commuters hop into “air taxis” that whisk them over clogged roads.

Companies such as Archer, Joby and Wisk are working on electric-powered aircraft that take off and land vertically like helicopters then propel forward like planes. “‘The Jetsons’ is definitely a reference that people make a lot when trying to contextualize what we are doing,” Archer Vice President Louise Bristow said, referring to a 1960s animated comedy about a family living in a high-tech future. “The easiest way to think about it is a flying car, but that’s not what we’re doing.”

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