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.