Boeing has flown PAV, a proof-of-concept autonomous vehicle that it claims will pave the way for future flying taxis. A brief test included a take off, hovering and a landing took in Manassas, Virginia. Future flights of the 30ft long, 28ft wide PAV are expected to test forward, wing-borne flight and the transition between vertical and horizontal flight modes. PAV is powered by batteries and has a claimed range of 50 miles.
Boeing Chief Technology Officer Greg Hyslop said: "In one year we have progressed from a conceptual design to a flying prototype."
Boeing PAV has made its first flight in Manassas, Virginia. (Boeing)
The firm believes its pioneering work could eventually lead to air taxi fleets. It is partnering with helicopter specialist Bell (part of Textron) and Uber in the latter's Uber Air initiative.
Boeing PAV on its first trip aloft. (Boeing)
Steve Nordlund, vice president and general manager of Boeing NeXt (the subsidiary developing autonomous air taxis) added: "We will unlock the potential of the urban air mobility market." Uber hopes to introduce airborne vehicles in 2023.
The US manufacturer's involvement the autonomous flying vehicles market came after it acquired Aurora Flight Sciences in 2017; Aurora's projects included developing a flying taxi in partnership with Uber Technologies. Boeing NeXt, the firm's urban air mobility arm, is also working on an airborne electric cargo vehicle that is designed to lift 500lbs - the prototype flew indoors last year and is scheduled for outdoor testing this year. Airbus is also working on a similar projects.
The Aviation Oracle wrote a detailed feature on the practicalities of Flying Cars in December 2018: Will flying cars take off?
Text © The Aviation Oracle