Boeing's flying taxi takes to the skies in its first test flight

Matthew Field
Boeing's flying PAV taxi - Boeing

self-flying air taxi built by one of the world's biggest defence and aerospace giants has lifted off on its maiden test flight in the US.

Boeing revealed its autonomous air passenger vehicle (PAV), which the US company hopes will be a contender for future flying taxi services.

The PAV uses electric vertical takeoff and landing technology, meaning it could fly in constricted urban areas.

The test saw a controlled takeoff, hover and landing and tested the flying taxi's autonomous functions and landing systems.

“In one year, we have progressed from a conceptual design to a flying prototype,” said Boeing Chief Technology Officer Greg Hyslop. 

The aircraft comes as part of Boeing's future-gazing NeXt division, its research arm developing autonomous and electric aircraft. The test flight comes as tech companies vie to launch flying taxi and autonomous drone services for human passengers and package delivery.

Uber has said it aims to have a flying taxi service in place by next year, launching a pilot version of the service in Dallas and Dubai.

It is also exploring bringing its flying taxis further afield, with Japan, France, Brazil, Australia and India up for consideration for its uberAIR service.

Amazon, meanwhile, has been testing  autonomous flying drones as part of its Amazon Air delivery service. Amazon Air would see package carrying drones deposit goods in remote locations by air. The pilot has been tested in Cambridge.

Meanwhile Boeing, better known for its commercial jets and military aircraft, has been developing the PAV since 2018. For now, the aircraft has a flying range of just 50 miles. It measures 30 feet by 28 feet.

Boeing has also developed an autonomous electric flying drone, which can carry up to 225kg, which is designed for delivering packages in hard to reach areas. It completed indoor testing last year and will transition to outdoor flights in 2019.