Boeing is getting into the small VTOL aircraft game -- we can't call them "flying cars" without cringing -- and the aerospace giant's first prototype has just made its first test flight this week. Boeing Passenger Air Vehicle (PAV) is a combination of a scaled-up drone and a pusher plane، with multiple horizontal propellers providing vertical flight، while forward flight is accomplished by a single large propeller in the back of the craft. Shortened wings allow the PAV to take advantage of winged flight، so it doesn't have to rely on the horizontally-mounted propellers to stay aloft at speed.
Boeing tested the PAV in autonomous mode، without a pilot، as the electric prototype is designed for fully autonomous flight and has a range of up to 50 miles. Hopefully there is an EV charger at your landing spot 50 miles away.
"The PAV prototype completed a controlled takeoff، hover and landing during the flight، which tested the vehicle's autonomous functions and ground control systems،" Boeing said. "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."
Boeing bet on autonomous flight technology in developing the PAV، just like a number of competitors eager to launch the "air taxi" era، eliminating the need for a pilot in a similar way that autonomous cars want to put taxi drivers out of business، or rather achieve a future where taxi drivers are not needed -- perhaps a distinction without a difference to some. Boeing envisions an airspace where piloted and autonomous vehicles can coexist، anticipating what it calls the "urban air mobility market."