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Boeing's autonomous passenger prototype takes flight

24/01/2019
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Boeing are looking to revolutionise air travel once again with their latest prototype. 

The aircraft, currently named the “Passenger Air Vehicle” (PAV), made its first flight on Tuesday at the company’s test site in Manassas, Virginia. It successfully took off, hovered and landed in place.

Boeing's PAV prototype tested its vertical lift off and landing capabilities
(Image via Boeing)

The PAV is part of the Boeing NeXt urban air mobility project. The project looks to a future where “flying cars” will transport people and goods through short trips, reducing reliance on cars and roads. 

The goal with the PAV is build an electric powered, autonomous passenger vehicle with vertical takeoff and landing. It uses drone-like propellers for takeoff, switching to a faster and more efficient fixed-wing flight once in the air. 

According to Boeing, the PAV will have a battery range of up to 50 miles (80.5km). It measures 30 feet in length by 28 feet in width, with four sets rotors providing vertical lift, and a rear propellor for forward flight.

Though the prototype’s initial flight test only lasted 60 seconds, it was a successful demonstration of the aircraft’s autonomous functions. 

“This is what revolution looks like, and it’s because of autonomy,” said John Langford, president and chief executive officer Boeing’s subsidiary Aurora Flight Sciences.

The autonomous vehicle will be able to take passengers up to 50 miles
(Image via Boeing)

The test was conducted without a passenger. The next planned flight tests will evaluate the vehicles fixed-wing flight capabilities and transition between vertical lift off and forward flight.

The company are also developing an electric cargo air vehicle (CAV) which can be used to deliver parcels across short distances. The CAV will be able to carry a payload of up to 227kg (500lb). It has so far only been tested indoors and is expected to begin outdoor testing later this year. 

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Tags: Engineering
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