Boeing flying car prototype completes maiden test flight

January 24, 2019 09:43
Boeing's Autonomous Passenger Air Vehicle prototype is shown during an inaugural test flight in Virginia in the United States on Jan. 22. Photo: Handout via Reuters

Boeing announced Wednesday that its flying car prototype completed its first test flight, helping the firm move ahead on a project aimed at on-demand autonomous air transportation.

The 30-foot-long aircraft - part helicopter, part drone and part fixed-wing plane - lifted a few feet off the ground and made a soft landing after less than a minute of being airborne, Reuters reports.

The test on the electric vertical takeoff and landing aircraft took place on Tuesday at an airport in Manassas, Virginia.

“This is what revolution looks like, and it’s because of autonomy,” John Langford, president and CEO of Boeing subsidiary Aurora Flight Sciences, said in a news release announcing the test flight.

Future flights will test forward, wing-borne flight. 

Major hurdles to Boeing’s vision of “low-stress” mobility include sorting out numerous critical safety and regulatory issues to meld traditional roadway traffic with fleets of flying cars, the report noted. 

Boeing bought Manassas-based Aurora Flight Sciences last year to speed development of a fleet of autonomous air vehicles.

With Aurora, Boeing is also working on Uber Technologies' UberAIR service for flights that are planned to be available for order via smartphones around 2023.

Boeing is looking to achieve a range of 50 miles with two flying car variants capable of carrying two and four passengers each.

Tests are planned for later this year on a package-hauling version that can lift up to 500 pounds.

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