Tactical Robotics, a developer of enclosed rotor VTOL technology in Israel, has signed an agreement with Boeing to explore both the production options and commercial applications of Tactical Robotic’s autonomous aerial vehicles. So far, Tactical has designed and prototyped a heavy-duty unmanned VTOL called the Comorant (seen above). The single-engine aircraft is autonomous or can be remotely controlled, and is...
Tactical Robotics, a developer of enclosed rotor VTOL technology in Israel, has signed an agreement with Boeing to explore both the production options and commercial applications of Tactical Robotic’s autonomous aerial vehicles.
So far, Tactical has designed and prototyped a heavy-duty unmanned VTOL called the Comorant (seen above). The single-engine aircraft is autonomous or can be remotely controlled, and is purpose-built for emergency responses and important operations. Unique to Tactical Robotic’s design is its enclosed rotors, which, according to the company, will enable it to traverse and access some types of terrain (e.g. mountainous, wooded, urban) that helicopters may have more difficulty with. Additionally, enclosed rotors have enhanced safety for people surrounding them.
Through the new agreement, Boeing and Tactical Robotics hope to work together on jointly “developing, producing and marketing” aircraft with vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) capabilities. Boeing has already developed a passenger air vehicle prototype with its new subsidiary Aurora Flight sciences, and has partnered with Uber Elevate, so technology from Tactical may contribute to Boeing’s air taxi ambitions.
The stated mission of Tactical Robotic’s parent company, Urban Aeronautics, is to”create, manufacture and market a family of VTOL, multi-mission, utility aircraft known that are capable of operating safely in complex urban and natural environments”. Urban Aeronautics, which has existed for over 35 years and is lead by Dr. Rafi Yoeli, is using what it calls ‘Fancraft’ technology to design vehicles for passenger use as well as emergency response. UrbanAero’s other subsidiary, Metro Skyways, is developing the CityHawk eVTOL for urban use, which follows a similar design to the Comorant. Fancraft technology uses ducted rotors for lift, and transitions to accelerated forward flight by diverting more of the airstream rearwards.
Why it’s important: Tactical Robotics brings forward a new kind of VTOL technology in the form of enclosed ducted fans used for both lift and forward acceleration. This fan style is unique to Tactical Robotics, and may offer important benefits that open-rotor VTOLs lack. Through this new partnership, Boeing will be able to explore the potential of this technology, as well as eventually offer it in some of their commercially offered aircraft and services.
Will Boeing and Porsche Bring these Products to Market? This article appeared first in Forbes and is shared on TransportUP with permission. Last week, Boeing and Porsche signed a memorandum of understanding to jointly explore the premium urban air mobility market. The word “explore” suggests they think premium UAM remains some ways off. Given that Porsche doesn’t exactly target fleet...
Will Boeing and Porsche Bring these Products to Market?
This article appeared first in Forbes and is shared on TransportUP with permission.
Last week, Boeing and Porsche signed a memorandum of understanding to jointly explore the premium urban air mobility market. The word “explore” suggests they think premium UAM remains some ways off. Given that Porsche doesn’t exactly target fleet buyers, some have speculated this partnership will produce a “flying sports car.”
So are Porsche and Boeing going to build personal vehicles for the high net worth crowd? Porsche might have an interest in building such a car to promote their brand. It could look like targeting a segment of the supercar market without the potential for cannibalizing existing sales. However, if the alliance follows the economic interests of both parties, this alliance will focus on creating fleet aircraft with a healthy dose of performance and luxury cues for the wealthy.
There will be a flying sports car market for individuals who wish to fly (and drive) the vehicle themselves. Terrafugia, AeroMobil, and PAL-V have vehicles in process targeting this market. These flying cars have list prices starting at $200,000 and can cost more than $1,200,000. Flying sports cars could change travel patterns to vacation homes or eventually even work in certain circumstances. They will probably represent an offshoot of the supercar market or the very top end of the car market.
I can’t wait to fly one, but the market in units will be relatively small for affordability reasons. Think thousands of units per year. The entire luxury car market in the U.S. will be about $10 billion in 2019, but nearly all of that market is for cars below $150,000. Jonathan Carrier, Vice President of Corporate Development for AeroMobil validates this point, “The total addressable market for flying cars above $500,000 is perhaps 10,000 units by 2030, but realistically the privately-owned market will total 1000 units per year. Supercar market dynamics will be key: exclusivity, performance and customer experience.”
Fleet models can drive the cost to enter the UAM market much lower than the alternatives and thereby stimulate the market. Instead of paying $200,000 plus upfront for a personal air vehicle, even if it isn’t a flying sports car, wealthy individuals could pay a reasonable cost per trip. Not surprisingly, Porsche Consulting suggests the overall eVtol market will total $32B market, by 2035.
However, even a fleet UAM model with high levels of utilization and seat occupancy won’t immediately support massive substitution for auto traffic. Today, driving a large sedan, the type of vehicle that a black car service might use, costs around about $0.72 per vehicle mile. At an average occupancy of 1.67 people (not including the driver), the cost per seat mile falls to $0.43/seat mile. (Of course, for a black car service the cost would be much higher to pay for the driver.) At Elevate this year, Uber predicted that at inception UAM cost per seat mile will exceed $5.70 per seat mile. At scale Uber projects a cost of $1.86 per seat mile for a UAM with all four seats occupied. These estimates assume the UAM programs hit their targets and don’t take into account that the same technical innovations that make the decline in seat miles costs for UAM possible will also drive down the cost per seat mile of automobiles.
The superior operating economics for fleets, the high purchase costs for personal UAM vehicles and the time and effort required to get a pilot’s license will ensure that UAM manufacturers sell many fleet vehicles for every personal vehicle they sell. As a result, fleet vehicles should become the priority in Boeing’s and Porsche’s joint capital investment plans.
Market Sizing and Who Will Fly in UAM Vehicles
The fleet market for UAM vehicles will grow off the base of UAM applications that helicopters fill today and then into the black car market. After years of dormancy, the commuter helicopter business has started to grow with Voom creating a moderate success in Sao Paolo and Mexico City and Blade building a nice business in New York. Uber recently joined the fray by starting services in New York and has announced service in the Bay Area. Helicopters currently cost around $1,200 per flight hour to operate, or between $9-10 per seat mile for a six-passenger aircraft. That is 70-80% more than Uber’s projections for its initial UAM service for a four-passenger aircraft (depending on whether you measure by cost per flight hour or cost per seat mile basis). Cutting that much cost could cause these markets to grow by three times or more. Most of these customers will come from more expensive car services. Uber Black, for example, typically costs over three times UberX and as UAM costs fall some black car customers will naturally choose to step up.
People often use helicopter services even though it costs more and doesn’t always save time. Recently, The Drive echoed the classic New York Times taxi helicopter race article from the 1970s using Uber’s new helicopter service to go to JFK. Their case study showed that public transport took less time than Uber’s service while acknowledging times might vary depending on the complexity of multi-model connections. In the Bloomberg version, the rider in the helicopter spent $364 for two people and took 43 minutes to arrive despite the eight-minute flight time. In the end, the attractiveness of the service from a functional standpoint will probably depend on the time of day, which drives traffic congestion, and the proximity of the origin or destination to the helipad. However, in addition to these specific time and geographic advantages, helicopter services have also grown because they are a premium product.
The Role of Performance Cues and Customer Experience
Today, helicopter service is a product for those with very high budgets. In the future, however, the people who will use these services might look a lot like people who buy one of Porsche’s more affordable sports cars. Wealthier individuals who value their time and businesspeople in a rush value premium experiences and status. Less hassle, lounges, and priority boarding remain valuable in commercial aviation even in the era of low-cost airlines, and these needs are often reflected in customer experience design for services like Blade. Not surprisingly, Porsche has worked with Delta Private Jets on the ground leg of private jet trips to create seamless, premium experiences.
Unlike the commercial aviation market where airlines (for example Eos and Max Jet) were not able to successfully customize entire aircraft to premium segments, vehicle design will likely play an important role for fleet UAM models. On the one hand, wealthy clients will continue to find exclusivity, performance cues, and luxury design attractive just as they do in the luxury car market. Exclusivity will be far more important in the UAM market than in the commercial aviation markets due to the small size of the aircraft and the more intimate nature of the experience. The risk associated with some of the well-publicized ride-sharing challenges JetSmarter faced in the private jet market, always an aspirational area for the well-to-do, will only intensify these concerns.
Similarly, while the well-off UAM customer might not have the money for a Porsche 911 GT3 RS or a flying sports car and they may not personally fly their UAM vehicle, they will not want to fly in the UAM equivalent of a Yugo. For proof points beyond cars, competition in the private jet market is again instructive. One could argue that flight speed makes little practical difference for most private flights (except perhaps by increasing fuel bills), but nonetheless, it remains an important differentiating feature for private jets. Interiors also play a key role in differentiating for private aviation and Porsche Design Studio has worked in this area previously to leverage its expertise from autos. On the other hand, fleet operators also care deeply about the cost of operation, so fleet UAM will use these cues while controlling operating costs.
Only Porsche has strong economic motives to pursue the personal market. Small market sizes shouldn’t create an impediment for them. It is a complement to what they already have and they have effectively pursued analogous strategies in the auto market. Boeing has less at stake in terms of brand connection to a high-end flying sports car and its BBJ business is of less relative importance financially. In the BBJ business, for example, the interior design is done by third parties like GDC Technics.
Both parties do have a significant interest in the fleet market. UAM will probably start from a base where it serves a relatively small core market of wealthy individuals and business people that prefer UAM service to expensive car transport options. That will represent a new, attractive market for both Porsche and Boeing. While initial market sizing estimates for UAM might seem aggressive without lower costs, over time the market will grow. Whoever wins the initial premium market will have a great market position in an attractive segment and a strong, aspirational brand it can take to the mass market. Porsche represents a great starting point either as an ingredient brand to the long-term UAM brand or as a UAM brand on its own. As noted above, the vehicle will need a luxury, performance-oriented design to go with the premium services. Porsche is the perfect partner to help Boeing get there on both of these dimensions and Boeing can provide the expertise to make it fly.
An electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) Porsche may be possible with Boeing’s help. World-class aircraft manufacturer Boeing and world-class sports car manufacturer Porsche will combine their expertise to create a brand in the aerial mobility industry targeted toward high-income individuals. The joint venture includes Boeing subsidiary Aurora Flight Sciences, which will assist in the design and prototyping of a...
An electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) Porsche may be possible with Boeing’s help.
World-class aircraft manufacturer Boeing and world-class sports car manufacturer Porsche will combine their expertise to create a brand in the aerial mobility industry targeted toward high-income individuals. The joint venture includes Boeing subsidiary Aurora Flight Sciences, which will assist in the design and prototyping of a luxury personal vehicle. As announced on October 10, the memorandum of understanding between Boeing and Porsche describes their plan to explore technologies for “premium personal urban air mobility vehicles.”
As part of the partnership, the companies will create an international team to address various aspects of urban air mobility, including analysis of the market potential for premium vehicles and possible use cases. Boeing, Porsche, and Aurora Flight Sciences are also developing a concept for a fully electric VTOL aircraft. Engineers from both companies, as well as Porsche subsidiaries Porsche Engineering Services GmbH and Studio F.A. Porsche, will implement and test a prototype.
Since Boeing’s acquisition of Aurora Flight Sciences in 2017, the two have been working together to develop and test various eVTOL prototypes, including the Passenger Air Vehicle (PAV) and the Cargo Air Vehicle (CAV).
“Porsche is looking to enhance its scope as a sports car manufacturer by becoming a leading brand for premium mobility. In the longer term, this could mean moving into the third dimension of travel,” stated Detlev von Platen, member of the executive board for sales and marketing at Porsche AG, in a press release. “We are combining the strengths of two leading global companies to address a potential key market segment of the future.”
According to Steve Nordlund, vice president and general manager of Boeing’s innovation division, Boeing NeXt, the collaboration with Porsche “builds on our efforts to develop a safe and efficient new mobility ecosystem, and provides an opportunity to investigate the development of a premium urban air mobility vehicle with a leading automotive brand. Porsche and Boeing together bring precision engineering, style, and innovation to accelerate urban air mobility worldwide.”
Why it’s important: Much of the innovation and development in the aerial mobility industry has been geared toward commercial applications that will be leased or owned by operators. While the technology will ultimately grow fastest and see widespread use through commercialization, personal luxury vehicles have great potential to provide manufacturers with necessary revenue, through fewer high price tag sales, for expansion and further technological development. Aerial mobility may also benefit from a public acceptance standpoint if personal vehicles begin to enter the airspace prior to the high-volume operation of “airlines” such as Uber Air.
Source // Boeing
Boeing and Safran continue to commit to the electrification of aircraft technology The two companies recently announced a joint investment in Electric Power Systems. (EPS), a company offering a multitude of lightweight energy storage products for the aerospace industry. Based in Logan, Utah, the privately held aerospace company specializes in advanced energy storage systems comprised of cells, power electronics, controls,...
Boeing and Safran continue to commit to the electrification of aircraft technology
The two companies recently announced a joint investment in Electric Power Systems. (EPS), a company offering a multitude of lightweight energy storage products for the aerospace industry. Based in Logan, Utah, the privately held aerospace company specializes in advanced energy storage systems comprised of cells, power electronics, controls, software and thermal management systems. The company’s technology supports a host of electric and hybrid electric airplanes such as the Nasa X57, Bye eFlyer and Bell Nexus.
“Electrification of flight has the potential to fundamentally change how goods, services, and humans connect. We are thrilled to work with visionary companies such as Boeing and Safran to further develop and field advanced energy solutions that can meet real world mission demands,” said Nathan Millecam, EPS chief executive officer.
Headlining EPS’s Series A funding round, the investment is intended to aid EPS in developing a highly automated industrial base in order to produce aviation-grade energy storage systems. EPS is also working on a means to further improve upon the current battery technologies in aircraft and reduce the costs of battery systems in electric airplanes and eVTOLs.
“EPS’ battery technology meets Boeing’s high standards of safety and can enable significant cost savings for customers,” said Brian Schettler, managing director of Boeing HorizonX Ventures. “This strategic investment accelerates the development of clean, quiet and safe urban air mobility solutions.”
EPS follows Cuberg, an advanced lithium metal battery technology company, as the second advanced battery solutions company in Boeing’s HorizonX Ventures investment portfolio. In addition, Safram Ventures has also invested in OXIS Energy, a UK-based company offering lithium-sulfur technology for high energy density battery systems.
“Safran will collaborate with EPS to offer our customers electric or hybrid-electric propulsion systems with a level of performance that sets us apart from competition,” said Alain Sauret, Safran Electrical & Power President. “This technology cooperation is emblematic of Safran’s strategy in greener propulsion solutions. Safran is already at the cutting edge of this field, and we are proud to accelerate through this investment.”
Why it’s important: Aerospace companies place a continued interest in the further development in battery systems technologies, dedicated to eventually shifting all existing aircraft power systems over to a completely electric battery system. This recent investment in EPS increases the chances that complete electrification of the aerospace market and the aerial mobility industry occurs within the next decade.
Sources // Newswire Today
The GoFly competition, sponsored by Boeing, is offering nearly $2 million in prizes to innovative teams who can build a ‘personal flyer’. Interested teams should apply by October 1st. The GoFly competition, much after the style of the X Prize, is offering a major reward to any team of innovators that can build a ‘personal flying device’ that is “safe,...
The GoFly competition, sponsored by Boeing, is offering nearly $2 million in prizes to innovative teams who can build a ‘personal flyer’. Interested teams should apply by October 1st.
The GoFly competition, much after the style of the X Prize, is offering a major reward to any team of innovators that can build a ‘personal flying device’ that is “safe, useful, and thrilling”. Specifically, the aircraft created must be a “safe, quiet, ultra-compact, near-VTOL personal flying device capable of flying 20 miles while carrying a single person”.
According to GoFly, the vision behind the competition is to create a well-designed device that anyone of any skill level or experience can fly in any location. The GoFly page states: “It should be a device for ALL: young and old, city-dweller and country-dweller, expert and novice.
Notably, the goal of the GoFly competition is not necessarily to develop air taxis, but enable people to fly. Devices completing therefore will most likely be smaller and more person-focused than many VTOL air taxis seen, but will most definitely encourage innovation among anyone with VTOL knowledge and aspirations.
Competing teams will have had a total of about two years to complete their VTOL designs. The “Final Fly-Off” will take place in San Francisco, California on Saturday, February 29th, 2020, and Exhibitions, Innovation Showcases, STEM workshops, Master Lectures, and more.
For more rules about the competition and how to enter, visit the GoFly website.
Why it’s important: While the GoFly competition does not focus specifically on air taxis, it does much to push forward the world of personal eVTOL flight. Innovations in flight technologies such as propulsion, energy, light-weight materials, and control and stability systems are likely to result from GoFly, which may eventually be integrated into air taxis. In addition to potential technological developments, GoFly also brings the excitement and potential for personal flight to the public eye.
Yesterday, Kitty Hawk Corporation and Boeing officially announced a strategic partnership to collaborate on Urban Air Mobility. Kitty Hawk Corporation is well known for developing the Cora air taxi, which is fully electric, autonomous, and undergoing testing in New Zealand for commercial flights. Kitty Hawk began developing the Cora air taxi in 2010, completed the aircraft’s development in 2017, and...
Yesterday, Kitty Hawk Corporation and Boeing officially announced a strategic partnership to collaborate on Urban Air Mobility.
Kitty Hawk Corporation is well known for developing the Cora air taxi, which is fully electric, autonomous, and undergoing testing in New Zealand for commercial flights. Kitty Hawk began developing the Cora air taxi in 2010, completed the aircraft’s development in 2017, and signed with Air New Zealand for UAM development in October 2018.
According to the latest press release from Kitty Hawk, the partnership with Boeing will “bring together the innovation of Kitty Hawk’s Cora division with Boeing’s scale and aerospace expertise.” This could mean that Boeing has partnered with Kitty Hawk for the expansion of its Boeing NeXt UAM plans.
Said Steve Nordlund, vice president and general manager of Boeing NeXt:
“Working with a company like Kitty Hawk brings us closer to our goal of safely advancing the future of mobility…We have a shared vision of how people, goods and ideas will be transported in the future.”
The press release names Boeing NeXt as “laying the foundation for a next-generation mobility ecosystem.”
Boeing also acquired eVTOL developer Aurora Flight Sciences in 2017. Since then, Aurora has been working on the Boeing Passenger Air Vehicle (PAV), which became one of the first prototype eVTOLS to successfully achieve autonomous hover flight in January of this year. Notably, both the Kitty Hawk Cora and the Boeing PAV feature multi-position fixed rotor designs (no tilting parts):
The recent partnership with Kitty Hawk represents just one of Boeing’s strategies for entering the Urban Air Mobility market. Aside from developing the PAV, Boeing also recently tested an autonomous cargo drone, and partnered with AI company SparkCognition to form SkyGrid, a blockchain powered airspace management system.
Why it’s important: A partnership with Boeing spells immense news for a company like Kitty Hawk. Boeing, being one of the largest aerospace manufacturers in the world, has the capability to fully develop an entire UAM eco-system, as it is planning with the Boeing NeXt program. With the new partnership, Kitty Hawk Cora may become a part of that ecosystem.
Boeing NeXt, the company’s disruptive mobility arm, has been focused on a global airspace integration effort to create a world in which autonomous and piloted air vehicles safely coexist. To create the transportation systems of the future, Boeing has been developing the Passenger Air Vehicle (PAV), and the Cargo Air Vehicle (CAV). Both are autonomous systems designed to fill a...
Boeing NeXt, the company’s disruptive mobility arm, has been focused on a global airspace integration effort to create a world in which autonomous and piloted air vehicles safely coexist. To create the transportation systems of the future, Boeing has been developing the Passenger Air Vehicle (PAV), and the Cargo Air Vehicle (CAV). Both are autonomous systems designed to fill a gap in the urban and regional mobility of currently available air systems. Just in January of 2019, the PAV completed its first test flight which can be seen here.
The Boeing CAV is 17.5 feet long (5.33 meters), 20 feet wide (6.1 meters) and 5 feet tall (1.52 meters), and weighs 1100 pounds. It is electrically powered by six pairs of counterrotating propellors expected to carry a maximum payload of 500 pounds. In a 2018 interview, Boeing CTO Greg Hyslop explained the Cargo Air Vehicle as a “convergence of technology in terms of hybrid-electric propulsion, vertical takeoff and landing, and autonomy that is going to unlock air travel in ways that we have not seen it before.”
To learn more about the technical specifications of Boeing’s CAV, visit the Hangar.
Earlier this week, Boeing completed its first test flight of the CAV in an outdoor environment, where the vehicle successfully took off, hovered, transitioned to forward flight and then landed safely. Until now, Boeing NeXt has been completing test flights of its propulsion system in controlled environments such as the Boeing Vertical/Short Takeoff and Landing (V/STOL) Wind Tunnel in Ridley Park, PA. After a rigorous program of indoor testing, flight simulations and lab research, the eVTOL is now ready to move to the next stage. Boeing has plans to continue advancing the development of the CAV with test flights focused on forward flight, loads analysis and vehicle performance.
Why its important: Boeing shows great initiative in urban air mobility technologies with the in-house design and development of both the Passenger and Cargo Air Vehicles. Its venture arm, HorizonX, continues to search for partnerships and synergies within the industry to leverage the advancements that Boeing is making in this technology of the future.
Source // Boeing press release
GoFly is an international competition to design, build, and fly a personal flying device. Grand Sponsor Boeing and Corporate Sponsor Pratt and Whitney have been able to reach a group of highly qualified competitors from across the globe. Thus far in the competition, 3,500 teams from 101 different countries have entered a design to be considered. Ten of those teams...
GoFly is an international competition to design, build, and fly a personal flying device.
Grand Sponsor Boeing and Corporate Sponsor Pratt and Whitney have been able to reach a group of highly qualified competitors from across the globe. Thus far in the competition, 3,500 teams from 101 different countries have entered a design to be considered. Ten of those teams were announced as the Phase I winners earlier in 2018, and the designs thoroughly impressed judges with their ingenuity and technical prowess.
GoFly CEO Gwen Lighter explained that “just like there there are many different types of cars available to drive, so too the diversity that we are seeing in the many different types of personal flying solutions that have been submitted will allow the public to be able to choose the best method for whatever they are doing at that particular moment. In that sense, it’s very exciting to see all the different permutations.” While the majority of the UAM industry is focused on multi-passenger transport, the mission for GoFly competitors is to transport just a single person.
Last week, GoFly announced the five winners of Phase II of the competition, each taking home $50,000. Three of the winning teams were from the USA, one from the Netherlands, and one from Russia and Latvia. Check out the vehicles each team designed below:
Phase II of the GoFly competition was the first time physical prototypes were unveiled for each team, and Phase III will require full-scale flying machines. However, phase III is not limited to just the five winners of phase II. Any team, regardless of having won a previous phase, or even entered in a previous round, can still register in the final fly-off competition. The winner will take home a grand prize of $1 million.
Why its important: GoFly has created an arena for some of the brightest aerospace minds to solve a complex transportation problem. The aerospace industry has previously seen these design-build-fly style competitions as a successful platform for crowdsourcing innovative ideas and to jumpstart development at a commercial level. It is a great way for engineers and industry professionals to collaborate and advance technologies in the UAM industry.
Source // GoFlyPrize.com
Boeing’s newest passenger air vehicle (PAV) made its first flight in Manassas, VA yesterday, completing a takeoff, hover, and landing flight profile. The aircraft was designed and developed by Boeing NeXt, which leads the company’s urban air mobility development efforts. Boeing NeXt and subsidiary Aurora Flight Sciences verified some of the vehicles autonomous functions and ground control systems during the...
Boeing’s newest passenger air vehicle (PAV) made its first flight in Manassas, VA yesterday, completing a takeoff, hover, and landing flight profile. The aircraft was designed and developed by Boeing NeXt, which leads the company’s urban air mobility development efforts.
Boeing NeXt and subsidiary Aurora Flight Sciences verified some of the vehicles autonomous functions and ground control systems during the flight on Tuesday. Watch video of the flight:
The concept for Boeing’s PAV follows their early prototype reveals, with four rotors per side of the aircraft providing lift, and a single pusher propeller providing thrust for forward flight. Currently, the aircraft has a number of ground sensors attached to the skids on each side that also serve as landing gear, but that may change in the future. Furthermore, this iteration of the PAV has seating for two passengers.
The takeoff, hover, and landing of Boeing’s PAV yesterday pave the way for envelope expansion flight testing as the handling characteristics and autonomous flight control systems are refined during further operation of the aircraft. The aircraft is 30 feet long and 28 feet wide, and has a range of 50 miles.
“In one year, we have progressed from a conceptual design to a flying prototype,” said Boeing Chief Technology Officer Greg Hyslop. “Boeing’s expertise and innovation have been critical in developing aviation as the world’s safest and most efficient form of transportation, and we will continue to lead with a safe, innovative and responsible approach to new mobility solutions.”
“Boeing was there when the aviation industry was born and in our second century, we will unlock the potential of the urban air mobility market,” said Steve Nordlund, vice president and general manager of Boeing NeXt. “From building air vehicles to airspace integration, we will usher in a future of safe, low-stress mobility in cities and regions around the world.”
Why it’s important: Boeing’s rapid progress from prototype to first flight of its new Passenger Air Vehicle substantiate (in part) some of the claims that the additional resources of larger OEM’s in the aerospace field may help overcome hurdles that smaller companies may require more time to navigate. Now that the PAV is in flight testing, others will likely be watching to learn lessons from the interactions between Boeing and the FAA once certification flight testing is commenced.
SkyGrid is a new company jointly founded by Boeing and SparkCognition to build AI-powered software for managing airspace with autonomous vehicles. SkyGrid’s purpose is to integrate all urban airspace traffic including cargo and passenger air vehicles as well as package delivery drones. According to its website, “SkyGrid is the world’s first artificial intelligence and blockchain-powered aerial operating system for next-generation...
SkyGrid is a new company jointly founded by Boeing and SparkCognition to build AI-powered software for managing airspace with autonomous vehicles.
SkyGrid’s purpose is to integrate all urban airspace traffic including cargo and passenger air vehicles as well as package delivery drones.
According to its website, “SkyGrid is the world’s first artificial intelligence and blockchain-powered aerial operating system for next-generation travel and transport that will ensure safe integration of autonomous air vehicles.”
The SkyGrid program will enable the future of urban air mobility by providing a smart, safe, secure way for air vehicles to travel. One of SkyGrid’s greatest advantages is that it will offer AI-enabled route identification. Simply put, SkyGrid is an automated air traffic controller for autonomous vehicles in urban areas.
SkyGrid works through the power of machine learning, using big data to efficiently and safely manage aircraft routes. The system will takes into account current air traffic in the area, weather, vehicle diagnostics, and in-flight route modification when assigning routes. Eventually, SkyGrid’s goal is to provide autonomous navigation directly to vehicles.
SkyGrid plans to work with the FAA and NASA regulations to eventually achieve automated flight plan approval. Boeing is partnered with Uber Elevate, both of which have been in extensive talks with NASA and the FAA. NASA is also holding a series of Urban Air Mobility Grand Challenges that will give companies like SkyGrid a chance to prove the safety of their technology and provide a framework for regulation. The first of these challenges will be in 2020.
It’s unclear yet whether SkyGrid will only be available for autonomous vehicles, or will be used for route guidance in piloted aircraft as well. Since autonomy is likely to come later than piloted aircraft (as stated by many vehicle developers), it would make sense for Boeing to develop a version of SkyGrid that works for those initial piloted vehicles. Boeing has yet declined to state who their exact customers will be, but has stated that it is already working with several partners on many potential use cases.
The announcement of the SkyGrid venture comes four months after Boeing and SparkCognition announced their partnership in July of 2018 with the intent of creating the digital UTM system. At that time, SparkCognition CEO Amir Husai commented:
“Estimated by some analysts at $3 trillion, the urban aerial mobility opportunity will lead to the creation of the largest new market in our lifetimes.”
Husai will now also serve as the CEO of SkyGrid. He states:
“By offering scalable and robust capabilities in a single, integrated framework, SkyGrid will make large-scale air vehicle applications more practical and accessible.”
Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg put out this tweet:
— Dennis A. Muilenburg (@BoeingCEO) November 20, 2018
Why it’s important: The effective development of UTM systems is vital to a future of autonomous urban air mobility aircraft. While systems like SkyGrid and Airmap are made for autonomous operations and currently focus on drones, their development marks the first step towards safe autonomous passenger aircraft. It’s likely that UTM systems will scale from unmanned drone management to route guidance for piloted aircraft, and then eventually to autonomous passenger vehicles.
CEO of Boeing Dennis Muilenberg recently spoke at the Geekwire Summit early this October. His main point was this: The definition of ‘airplane’ is broadening quickly, and the new range of vehicles about to entire our airspace will require and entirely new eco-system. Muilenburg spoke extensively about air taxi systems, focusing on big picture idea that one day soon, there...
CEO of Boeing Dennis Muilenberg recently spoke at the Geekwire Summit early this October. His main point was this: The definition of ‘airplane’ is broadening quickly, and the new range of vehicles about to entire our airspace will require and entirely new eco-system.
Muilenburg spoke extensively about air taxi systems, focusing on big picture idea that one day soon, there will be an entirely new and highly extended range of vehicles in our skies.
He mentioned that this ecosystem will include everything from urban air mobility solutions to hypersonic aircraft to even commercial spacecraft. Boeing plans on working on all components of this ecosystem to develop a full aerospace traffic management system.
“That all needs an integrated traffic system. That’s part of what we’re working on with NASA and the FAA”
Muilenberg’s attendance at the GeekWire came with announcements that Boeing’s air taxi prototype will be ready to fly in 2019. As a reminder, Boeing has partnered with Aurora Fight Sciences to this end.
“Think about a future in which you will have three-dimensional highways to relieve traffic congestion,” said said Muilenberg in an interview with Bloomberg TV in Seattle. He also stated expectation that initial operations of these air taxi systems will begin within five years.
Why it’s important: As the world of urban air mobility develops, every service provider will require its own airspace traffic management system. However, these systems all have to be integrated into one overall airspace management system so that all vehicles in the sky may co-ordinate with each other. Boeing is currently working with NASA and the FAA to develop this system.
At the Geekwire Summit earlier this week, Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg stated his expectation that flying cars will be in operation in five years or less. While he makes the caveat that the the first aerial vehicles may carry cargo rather than passengers, Muilenburg believes that within five years the infrastructure of three-dimensional transit will begin to unfold. “Think about a future...
At the Geekwire Summit earlier this week, Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg stated his expectation that flying cars will be in operation in five years or less.
While he makes the caveat that the the first aerial vehicles may carry cargo rather than passengers, Muilenburg believes that within five years the infrastructure of three-dimensional transit will begin to unfold. “Think about a future in which you will have three-dimensional highways to relieve traffic congestion” he says, seeing eVTOLs as a way to compensate for overworked transportation infrastructure in our cities.
Boeing is one of the main companies working with Uber to make air taxis a reality. Its recently acquired subsidiary, Aurora Flight Sciences, is expected to release flying prototypes within a year. Boeing is also working closely with regulators, as well as the Austin-based artificial intelligence company SparkCognition to develop a blockchain-powered system for urban air traffic management. UTM (unmanned traffic management) will be an integral part of directing both piloted and unmanned and aircraft through urban ‘air traffic corridors’, and are being developed by other companies like Airmap in collaboration with NASA and the FAA.
The flying car industry represents the greatest advancement in the aviation industry since the jet age; Boeing being just one of the companies to join the movement. Other aircraft developers including Airbus, Bell, Embraer, Pipistrel, and Karem are also working with Uber on its vision. The Airbus Vahana aircraft has already established a testing center in Pendleton Oregon, a development strategy which Muilenberg says Boeing will soon follow.
While many of these companies have chosen to build infrastructure for piloted vehicles as a stepping stone to more distant future autonomy, Boeing has placed great investment into autonomy. It’s new research center to be built in Cambridge Massachusetts (rendering seen below) will focus purely on autonomous air vehicles.
At the end of August, Japan began an initiative to jumpstart the flying car industry. It’s taken its first steps by actively recruiting Subaru, Boeing, Uber Japan, Airbus Japan, and more. Japan plans to have flying cars in the air by 2020. It’s Ministry of Trade, Economy, and Industry initiated meetings with both private and public sectors last month. In...
At the end of August, Japan began an initiative to jumpstart the flying car industry. It’s taken its first steps by actively recruiting Subaru, Boeing, Uber Japan, Airbus Japan, and more.
Japan plans to have flying cars in the air by 2020. It’s Ministry of Trade, Economy, and Industry initiated meetings with both private and public sectors last month. In the U.S, NASA is beginning to work with private companies on UAV (drone) mapping systems, but Japan is one of the first countries to move the focus to passenger-carrying eVTOLs.
While many refer to these new vehicles and services as flying cars, Japan prefers to refer to the new movement as a ‘mobility service’. With the initiative, Japan hopes to solve its plethora of ground transportation problems, which include heavy traffic, difficult-to-navigate mountainous regions, and remote islands.
The latest recruit to the Japanese flying car coalition, as of yesterday, is Subaru. Although not widely known, Subaru has an aerospace division as well as automotive. Specifically, it developed attack helicopters for the Japanse air force. It also designs and builds lightweight carbon composites for Boeing’s 767 and 777. As of 2015, it signed an agreement with Boeing to work on the 777X’s center wing box. It even has begun research projects for unmanned aerial vehicles and delivers a full trainer aircraft to the Japanese Ministry of Defense.
Japan hopes to complete a ‘roadmap’ for flying cars within its infrastructure by the end of the year. It has enlisted 21 companies total, including Toyota’s Cartivator, Japan Airlines, ANA Holdings, and Yamato Holdings. It held its Public-Private Conference for Future Air Mobility on August 29th.
Why it’s important: Japan’s addition of Subaru to the flying car initiative indicates the wide variety of companies and industries that will contribute. It also lends an extra layer of certainty and credibility to the flying car industry. Subaru’s choice to join the flying car force may send signals to other big auto industry players like GM and Volkswagen to start developing their own technologies.
Audi and other European car makers, including Italian design firm Italdesign, are in a battle for flying taxi supremacy against Uber. They announced in May the creation of the Urban Air Mobility division – a dedicated division in Ingolstadt tasked with testing flying taxis. Boeing has countered this week by announcing the development of the Boeing Aerospace & Autonomy Center in Cambridge, Massachusetts....
Audi and other European car makers, including Italian design firm Italdesign, are in a battle for flying taxi supremacy against Uber. They announced in May the creation of the Urban Air Mobility division – a dedicated division in Ingolstadt tasked with testing flying taxis.
Boeing has countered this week by announcing the development of the Boeing Aerospace & Autonomy Center in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The center will be located on the grounds of MIT’s mixed-use district.
The center’s mission is to design, build, and test autonomous aircraft, and work will be conducted by both Boeing employees and those from Aurora Flight Sciences – an MIT spinout.
Aurora Flight Sciences was purchased by Boeing in November of 2017, and is already specializing in autonomous aircraft design. Aurora uses algorithmic design processes to optimize for the best result.
Greg Hyslop, Boeing CTO, stated: “Boeing is leading the development of new autonomous vehicles and future transportation systems that will bring flight closer to home. By investing in this new research facility, we are creating a hub where our engineers can collaborate with other Boeing engineers and research partners around the world and leverage the Cambridge innovation ecosystem.”
Boeing did not provide any details on its eVTOL projects, while Aurora, on the other hand, is already developing several vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) projects, including their eVTOL concept and LightningStrike XV-24A.
Why it’s important: Continued investment by large aerospace firms in the infrastructure necessary to design, build, and test flying taxis is critical for the sustaining growth of the industry. The location for Boeing and Aurora Flight Science’s new research center at MIT is fitting – Aurora Flight Sciences spun out of students at MIT. Additionally, an investment in developing commercial real estate is a large expense, indicating the confidence with which Boeing and Aurora Flight Sciences have for moving forward in the industry.
The Boeing Cargo Air Vehicle (CAV) is an electrically powered aircraft that can carry up to 500 lbs of cargo (or persons) that was designed and developed in under 3 months by a team of Boeing Engineers.
Stage of Development
From the Boeing website:
Boeing is accelerating breakthrough advancements in autonomous air travel.
It recently completed initial flight tests of an electric vertical-takeoff-and-landing (eVTOL) unmanned cargo aerial vehicle (CAV) prototype. The innovative platform is designed to test and evolve Boeing’s autonomy technology for future aerospace vehicles.
In less than three months, Boeing engineers designed and built the CAV prototype, which stands four feet off the ground, measures 15 by 18 feet and weighs more than 700 pounds. It is outfitted with eight counter-rotating propeller blades and custom Boeing batteries that allow for vertical flight.
Researchers are transforming the remote control-operated CAV prototype into an autonomous aircraft capable of carrying up to 500 pounds. The technology opens up new possibilities for delivering time-sensitive and high-value goods, conducting autonomous missions in remote or dangerous environments, and other applications.
Our Take on the CAV
Boeing's CAV project is unique in that it completed an entire product conception, design, production, and flight test cycle in around three months, which is extremely quick for the aerospace industry. Furthermore, although the CAV is designed to handle cargo, the 500 lb payload could very easily be converted into a light, yet strong passenger enclosure that could carry two average sized humans, all while the CAV is autonomously piloted. This project is also unique because it is Boeing native; although Boeing acquired Aurora Flight Sciences in November of 2017, Boeing itself is continuing its own research into the eVTOL field.
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