Boeing's electric autonomous passenger air vehicle just had its first flight

Boeing’s air taxi is 30 feet long and 28 feet wide with a range of up to 50 miles

Boeing says its flying auto prototype hovered briefly in the air during an inaugural test flight, part of the company's bid to revolutionise urban transportation and parcel-delivery services. Boeing has designed the aircraft to be fully autonomous from takeoff to landing. The company claims that the prototype completed take-off, hovering and landing successfully along with the testing of autonomous functions and ground control systems.

"In one year, we have progressed from a conceptual design to a flying prototype", Boeing Chief Technology Officer Greg Hyslop said in a statement. The company will also continue testing to advance safety and reliability of the aircraft, it said.

These companies and a bunch of others seem determined to have scaled-down aircraft in the air in the not so distant future, acting as short-distance means of transportation for city dwellers. Its current dimensions are 30 feet long and 28 feet wide, making it slightly more compact than the average private pilot craft, and it boasts an advanced airframe design integrating four rotors and wings. Future flights will test forward, wing-borne flight, as well as the transition phase between vertical and forward-flight modes.

This vehicle is not the only autonomous flying machine developed by Boeing. Although things are finally starting to look up (pun intended) after a Boeing test flight earlier today.

The test flight represents the latest milestone for Boeing NeXt, which leads Boeing's urban air mobility efforts. It's also working on a cargo version of the same vehicle, which can carry up to 500 pounds of whatever. One prototype was put through a test flight previous year at a Boeing lab in Missouri.

Boeing, the largest aerospace company in the United States, is putting a lot of investment behind the development of these air taxi vehicles, which the company sees as the future of urban mobility. The cargo vehicle completed its first indoor flight a year ago and will see outdoor flight testing in 2019. Electrically powered autonomous vehicles equipped with artificial intelligence, smart routing - that technology is being demonstrated right now. The passenger air vehicle is an exciting forefront for us - think about urban flying taxis.



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