It’s one of the most enduring questions in the world of motoring. We’re in the future, so where’s my flying car?
Every few years, someone comes along with their answer to the question. Inevitably they say that they have a flying car, and it’s going on sale really, really soon. Just as inevitably, they sink without a trace. It’s almost like the flying car idea will never really take off…
Enter Boeing. Just in case you’ve somehow missed it, Boeing isn’t exactly a small startup that exists only to market pie-in-the-sky ideas. It’s the largest manufacturer of aircraft in the world, and it too has been working on the flying car. As for taking off, its flying car now does exactly that.
This short test-hover may not look like much, but it’s the first official flight of Boeing’s prototype flying car. Developed by Aurora Flight Sciences in Manassas, Virginia, the 30-foot long “Passenger Air Vehicle” (PAV) is a test bed for autonomous flight controls. This initial flight saw the take-off and landing systems tested, while future flights will include forward motion too.
For PAV, Aurora aims to have a full, door-to-door, autonomous flying vehicle. Boeing is working with SparkCognition and the FAA to develop the traffic control systems required for three-dimensional roads. It’s also collaborating with Uber for the UberAIR service, a smartphone app for hailing an aerial taxi. Boeing has penciled that in for as soon as 2023.
PAV isn’t the only flying car in Boeing’s plans, nor is this the final form. It’s developing three further versions, including two- and four-passenger cars and a delivery van. That will have a payload of 500lb, with a planned range of 50 miles for all three vehicles.
Speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Dennis Muilenburg, CEO of Boeing said:
“The future of mobility — moving goods, moving cargo, moving people — that future is happening now, and it’s going to accelerate over the next five years and ramp up even more beyond that.”