Boeing's flying car lifts off in race to revolutionize urban travel

Boeing's flying car lifts off in race to revolutionize urban travel

Troy Powers
January 26, 2019

On Thursday, for instance, Boeing announced the successful conclusion of the first test flight for its autonomous passenger air vehicle, or PAV for short.

The craft, which doesn't have a name but is referred to as a passenger air vehicle (PAV) prototype, is meant to be completely autonomous from takeoff to landing. The brief flight was created to test the PAV's autonomous functions and ground control systems. Boeing is working on this in partnership with Uber, and the aviation company's leadership has said they believe the prototype shows enough promise that it will eventually be usable in an air taxi fleet in the not-too-distant future.

The legal challenges that will come with commercial air taxis are something Boeing NeXt has made part of its planning efforts, and the company is working with regulatory agencies and industry partners to find pathways to market for consumer air mobility technologies.

The advanced airframe integrates propulsion and wing systems for efficient hover and forward flight.

The test flight represents the latest milestone for Boeing NeXt. Subsequent flights are planned to evaluate its fixed-wing flight capabilities, along with its ability to smoothly transition between vertical and forward flight. It's created to have a range of up to 50 miles (80 kilometers) and is meant to be for short journeys across cities.

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Not a flying vehicle: It's a popular moniker, but misleading. In addition to the PAV, the Boeing NeXt portfolio includes an unmanned fully electric cargo air vehicle (CAV) created to transport up to 500 pounds (about 227 kg).

"This is what revolution looks like, and it's because of autonomy", Aurora Flight Services chief executive John Langford said in a statement.

Boeing is among a handful of companies in the United States and around the world - including Uber and a startup backed by Google founder Larry Page - that are developing vehicles which could be used for personal air transport with autonomous navigation. "Certifiable autonomy is going to make quiet, clean and safe urban air mobility possible".

This vehicle is not the only autonomous flying machine developed by Boeing.