An autonomous drone capable of carrying passengers is now being test flown by aircraft manufacturer Boeing, CNBC reports.
The first successful test flight of Boeing’s autonomous passenger air vehicle (PAV) is seen as a major milestone on the road to developing air taxis for companies like Uber. The test included takeoff, but not forward flight.
The battery powered drone has a range of about 50 miles.
“In one year we have progressed from a conceptual design to a flying prototype,” said Boeing Chief Technology Officer Greg Hyslop.
Added Steve Nordlund, vice president and general manager of Boeing Next, the company’s air taxi development subsidiary: “We will unlock the potential of the urban air mobility market.”
Boeing, along with rival Bell – a maker of helicopters – is partnering with Uber to develop PAVs for a future service dubbed Uber Air. Airbus and the German start-up Volocopter also are developing PAVs.
Uber wants to launch Uber Air in 2023, but the need for Federal Aviation Administration approval may push the debut further out.