Boeing and Uber are getting one step closer to their vision of flying taxis, with reports that Boeing’s first test flight was a success.
According to a report in CNBC, Boeing Chief Technology Officer Greg Hyslop said in a statement that the company thinks it is on the right path to creating air taxis that are self-driving and can be called upon on demand. “In one year, we have progressed from a conceptual design to a flying prototype,” he said in a statement.
The test flight was held in Manassas, Virginia. While it was successful, the test didn't last long, and did not include the aircraft flying forward. The prototype runs on battery and will be able to fly for 50 miles.
The successful test is a milestone for Boeing, which is in a race with aviation makers and tech firms to be the first to develop a self-flying air taxi. Bell, the unit of Textron, is working on its own small unmanned aircraft that could move people short distances in cities, reported CNBC.
Both Boeing and Bell have inked partnerships with Uber, the ride-hailing app company that is already in the planning stages for its Uber Air taxi service, noted the report. At the same time, Airbus (a Boeing rival) and Volocopter, a startup out of Germany, are in the throes of creating their own air taxi prototypes. Uber has a target date of 2023 to launch Uber Air, while others in the market think it will take far longer for flying taxis to get the blessing of the Federal Aviation Administration.
“We will unlock the potential of the urban air mobility market,” said Steve Nordlund, vice president and general manager of Boeing NeXt, the aerospace subsidiary developing autonomous air taxis.