American aircraft maker, Boeing has boosted the confidence of electric flying taxi maker, Wisk, by investing a further $450 million in its mission to build an autonomous and electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL), Reuters reported. California-based, Wisk is already owned by Boeing and Kitty Hawk, a firm founded by Larry Page. NASA has also
eVTOLs are the next big thing in urban mobility. Even as Elon Musk takes the laborious approach of boring tunnels under the ground to move within the city, startups are taking to the skies to solve the problem of congestion on the roads. Aiding their progress is the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) in the U.S., which has helped startups conduct flight tests for their air vehicle concepts and even experiment with fuel sources like hydrogen.
Aircraft maker Boeing is looking at this opportunity to innovate rapidly across domains and takeaway learnings in electric, material, and processing technology to its portfolio, Reuters reported. In 2019, we had reported how Boeing had also partnered with car maker Porsche to develop premium mobility solutions.
Ideas in this space are aplenty and competition is also heating up. Reuters reported that most startups are aiming for the 2024 launch of their services. However, Boeing is in no hurry since it intends to leapfrog the first generation eVTOLs and begin its journey with fully autonomous flying taxis. According to the Reuters report, that would be Wisk’s sixth-generation aircraft, even though the company claims the bragging rights to have performed the first autonomous eVTOL passenger flight in 2017.
Industry sources told Reuters that it would probably take until 2028 for Wisk to get its autonomous flying taxi certified by the authorities and Boeing’s $450 million will surely go a long way in achieving this goal. Apart from delivering a flying taxi service that could whisk you to the other part of the town autonomously and in no time, Boeing would surely be interested in applying learnings in autonomy and electric propulsion to its aircraft business at large.
Boeing’s Chief Strategy Officer, Marc Allen did not rule out other such collaborations with startups that could help its aerospace business transform in the face of changing demands of air transportation.
While various companies are working to make flying cars a reality, for some of us it is already delayed.