Boeing’s answer to Airbus’ flying taxi concept is here.
The aircraft maker announced Wednesday that its first “autonomous passenger air vehicle” had successfully completed a test flight in Manassas, Virginia.
Using electric propulsion, the 30-foot prototype can make vertical take-off and landings, and has a range of 50 miles. In the test flight on Wednesday, the vehicle completed a controlled takeoff, hover, and landing. On future test flights, engineers will work on the vehicle’s ability to shift from vertical flight to horizontal travel, one of the most challenging aspects of the project.
“This is what revolution looks like, and it’s because of autonomy,” John Langford, president and chief executive officer of Aurora Flight Sciences, one of the Boeing units working on the project, said in a press release. “Certifiable autonomy is going to make quiet, clean and safe urban air mobility possible.”
Boeing NeXt, which is also collaborating on the project, is also working on a fully autonomous, electric cargo plane that can carry up to 500 pounds.
French manufacturer Airbus, largely seen as Boeing’s closest rival in the aerospace industry, has also been working in overdrive to make flying taxis a reality. Its Silicon Valley arm, known as A^3, plans to have a production version of its 8-rotor Project Vahana aircraft read by 2020, an executive told Business Insider back in 2016.
“Boeing was there when the aviation industry was born and in our second century, we will unlock the potential of the urban air mobility market,” Steve Nordlund, vice president and general manager of Boeing NeXt, said in the release. “From building air vehicles to airspace integration, we will usher in a future of safe, low-stress mobility in cities and regions around the world.”
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