The aerospace company completed the first test of a prototype it hopes will one day soar across the sky over busy city streets.
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This story originally appeared on PCMag
Boeing just took a major step toward making the dream of flying cars a reality.
On Tuesday in Manassas, Virginia, the aerospace company completed the first test of a flying car prototype it hopes will one day soar across the sky over busy city streets, shuttling humans. Designed and developed by Boeing subsidiary Aurora Flight Sciences, the autonomous passenger air vehicle prototype can take off, hover, and land vertically, as it proved this week.
BREAKING: It’s another first for us. Along with @AuroraFlightSci we’ve successfully tested our passenger air vehicle. We continue our progress towards a safe and sustainable urban mobility ecosystem. #TheFutureIsBuiltHere pic.twitter.com/hwuw4d5jmz
— The Boeing Company (@Boeing) January 23, 2019
“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 30-foot long, 28-foot-wide prototype is designed to fly completely autonomously from takeoff to landing. Powered by an electric propulsion system, it has a range of up to 50 miles.
“This is what revolution looks like, and it’s because of autonomy,” Aurora Flight Sciences President and CEO John Langford said in a statement. “Certifiable autonomy is going to make quiet, clean, and safe urban air mobility possible.”
During Tuesday’s test flight, Boeing verified the vehicle’s autonomous functions and ground control systems. Going forward, Boeing plans to test its ability to transition between vertical and forward-flight modes, which the company said is “typically the most significant engineering challenge for any high-speed VTOL [vertical takeoff and landing] aircraft.”
The new milestone comes after Boeing last year completed the first indoor test flight of an unmanned, fully electric cargo air vehicle designed to transport up to 500 pounds. The company plans to test that vehicle outdoors this year.
Meanwhile, Boeing isn’t the only company working on flying cars. Uber in 2017 showed off a personal flying pod, and Google’s Larry Page last year revealed Cora, his prototype air taxi. At the 2018 Geneva Motor Show, three companies, including Audi and Porsche, unveiled flying car concepts.