Boeing has just announced that they HAVE completed a successful first test flight of its autonomous passenger air vehicle (PAV) prototype.
The PAV prototype completed a controlled takeoff, hover, and landing during the flight, which tested the vehicle's autonomous functions and ground control systems from an airport in Manassas, Virginia.
Future flights will test forward, wing-borne flight, as well as the transition phase between vertical and forward-flight modes. This transition phase is typically the most significant engineering challenge for any high-speed VTOL aircraft.
"In one year, we have progressed from a conceptual design to a flying prototype," said Boeing Chief Technology Officer Greg Hyslop. "Boeing's expertise and innovation have been critical in developing aviation as the world's safest and most efficient form of transportation, and we will continue to lead with a safe, innovative and responsible approach to new mobility solutions."
Powered by an electric propulsion system, the PAV prototype is designed for fully autonomous flight from takeoff to landing, with a range of up to 50 miles (80.47 kilometers). Measuring 30 feet long (9.14 meters) and 28 feet wide (8.53 meters), its advanced airframe integrates the propulsion and wing systems to achieve efficient hover and forward flight.
"This is what revolution looks like, and it's because of autonomy," said John Langford, president and chief executive officer of Aurora Flight Sciences, the Boeing subsidiary responsible for designing the aircraft. "Certifiable autonomy is going to make quiet, clean and safe urban air mobility possible."