US airplane manufacturer Boeing has confirmed that its prototype ‘flying car’ - which is part of their ambitious project to provide on-demand autonomous air transportation has completed its first successful test flight.
A statement released by Boeing said the electrical vertical takeoff and landing (EVTOL) aircraft testing was conducted just outside the US capital of Washington and expressed their delight at the mission’s success.
Boeing is one of a number of companies that are pursuing autonomous navigation programs – others include ride-hailing behemoth Uber and a startup form backed by Google founder Larry Page. The enterprises are all looking to develop vehicles that can be used for personal air transport with autonomous navigation.
Boeing NeXt is spearheading the company’s urban air mobility efforts, and has utilized Boeing subsidiary Aurora Flight Sciences to design and develop the prototype.
Tests will continue "to advance the safety and reliability of on-demand autonomous air transportation," the company said.
Boeing CTO Greg Hyslop has expressed his delight at the progress the company has made in twelve months and said the program has the potential to completely revolutionize air transportation.
He said, “In one year, we have progressed from a conceptual design to a flying prototype. The vehicle is designed for fully autonomous flight from takeoff to landing, with a range of up to 50 miles (80KM).
President and CEO of Aurora, John Langford said, “This is what revolution looks like, and it's because of autonomy," said John Langford, president and chief executive officer of Aurora. Certifiable autonomy is going to make quiet, clean and safe urban air mobility possible."
Aurora is a company that works on future technologies for Boeing, and is headquartered in Manassas, which is about 30 miles outside the US capital Washington.
Last year, Boeing agreed to establish research and lab space inside a new facility at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology for "future mobility" research.
Boeing and others have discussed the idea of autonomous flying taxis in an effort to help ease flight congestion and improve short-range transportation.