28 JANUARY 2019
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The first test flight of an autonomous passenger air vehicle (PAV) prototype, a transport that could be the taxi or family car of the future, was held successfully in the US last week by Boeing “urban air mobility” subsidiary Boeing NeXt.
Another branch company, Aurora Flight Sciences, is designing and developing the electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft and will continue testing to advance the safety and reliability of on-demand autonomous air transportation.
The PAV prototype last week completed a controlled take-off, hover and landing during a flight designed to test the vehicle's autonomous functions and ground control systems.
Boeing says future launches will test forward wing-borne flight, as well as the transition phase between vertical and forward-flight modes, typically the most significant engineering challenge for any high-speed VTOL aircraft.
With an electric propulsion system, the prototype, at 9.14m (30ft 9in) long and 8.5m (28ft) wide, is designed for autonomous flight from take-off to landing, with a range of 80.5km (50 mi).
Aurora president and CEO John Langford said: "This is what revolution looks like, and it's because of autonomy. Certifiable autonomy is going to make quiet, clean and safe urban air mobility possible."
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