Boeing’s PAV Autonomous Passenger Drone Completes First Test Flight
The race to reach the skies in an EVTOL (electric vertical take-off and landing) is one of the auto industry’s hottest contests, with all of the big names throwing their concept into the ring. And one of aviation’s most renowned companies, Boeing has just completed their first test flight for an ‘autonomous passenger drone’.
Boeing is calling its EVTOL a ‘PAV’, otherwise known as a ‘passenger air vehicle’. Boeing say it measures in at 9.14 metres long and 8.53 metres wide. It’s powered by an electric propulsion system and has a range of up to 50 miles.
Many see EVTOL vehicles as the future of urban mobility, with their vertical take-off and landing theoretically enabling door-to-door transport. A year ago, Boeing’s creation was just a concept, but last week it was fully tested in Manassas, Virginia. For the first test, the PAV was under human control but it is designed to operate fully autonomously.
And it seems auto manufacturers agree. Last year, Rolls-Royce revealed plans for a personal electric flying vehicle that they say could be on the market by the ‘early 2020s’, while Uber have even gone as far as unveiling renderings for their planned ‘Skyports’, which will be used as pick-up and drop-off points when NASA-backed UberAIR gets the go-ahead.
Boeing NeXt, the company’s urban air mobility division, says that it will test the passenger drone more over the next few weeks, focusing on ‘forward flight’ as well as the crucial transition from vertical to forward flying, which they say is “the most significant engineering challenge for any high-speed VTOL aircraft”.
Keep an eye on the Boeing Website for any updates.