Uber has been a boon for us (especially on Saturday nights in Mumbai), helping us reach places quickly, conveniently and economically. But, they created a problem, sort of. More cars on the roads mean increased traffic in major cities.
Well, Boeing is kind of working on this matter, to find a solution. Flying taxis! Not really innovational, we know. But, we may be closer to this becoming a reality than one would think, as they successfully completed their first test flight.
The flight only lasted for about 50 seconds, and the aircraft only hovered in one place and had no payload onboard. That definitely does not sound impressive but that is still a major achievement. Taking into consideration the landing and take-off technology of a chopper, have it flying with the efficiency of a jet, in the size of a big car and yet, be as affordable as an Uber is, is by no means an easy task..
“In one year, we have progressed from a conceptual design to a flying prototype,” said Boeing’s chief technology officer, Greg Hyslop
Boeing, Airbus, and others are betting on the future or eVTOLs (Electric vertical take-off and landing vehicles) being tiny personal, self-flying crafts like this one. This prototype quadcopter was 28 feet wide by 30 feet long. The PAV (Passenger Air vehicle) was made in partnership with Aurora Flight Sciences, a subsidiary of Boeing, which is also a part of Uber Elevate, where they work together to build these fleets of air taxis. The expected speed is in the 150mph ballpark.
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
They imagine the future of urban area mobility to be as simple as ordering one of these from your phone, hopping on to a nearby sky-scraper and then sharing the ride with up to 3 others on your way to your destination. They expect to show first proofs-of-concept to be ready by 2020 and have commercial flights in metros like Dallas, Los Angeles and Texas by 2023.
Airbus has a very similar concept vehicle called the Vahana, which had its first flight last year at CES 2018. After that, they have been spending the time to refine their product and design. As with all concepts, we are still years away from seeing these be commercially available, but the commitment of so many airline biggies shows how serious they are about an aerial future.