BOEING has invested $450 million in a flying taxi startup that hopes to put passengers above the city skyline by the end of the decade.
The US aerospace giant on Monday said Wisk Aero will use the cash to help develop its drones.
Wisk, a joint venture between Boeing and flying car maker Kitty Hawk, hopes to build a fleet of electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) planes.
Powered by 12 vertical and one horizontal propellers, each vehicle will accommodate up to two people and is controlled by artificial intelligence.
Passengers will order a taxi using an app. These all-electric vehicles will cover up to 62 miles on a single charge and reach a top speed of 110 mph (177 km/h).
That’s fast enough to skim the length of Manhattan in minutes.
California-based Wisk is one of dozens of eVTOL makers but differs in focusing its efforts on autonomous flight.
“Our view is Wisk’s great strategic advantage, moving straight to autonomous aircraft, building on those principles at every level of design and development,” said Boeing Chief Strategy Officer Marc Allen. . Reuters.
The decision to take a shortcut to the next generation of manned eVTOL aircraft being developed by independent startups and several aerospace groups resulted in commissioning later than the 2024 target date. that most competitors expect.
Boeing declined to say when it will name the sixth-generation Wisk passenger vehicle, but industry sources say the idea is to get it certified around 2028.
Boeing says it will be the first certified self-driving passenger vehicle in the United States.
In a statement, Wisk said the $450 million investment from Boeing would make it “one of the best-funded companies” of its kind, but gave no further details.
Fundraising follows a series of multibillion-dollar SPAC mergers by competitors in a trend that has cooled recently.
Analysts say the timetable for the certification remains the main source of uncertainty around the industry, with launch players including California-based Joby and Archer and European rivals Lilium and Vertical Aerospace.
Boeing owns an undisclosed majority of shares in Wisk.
It’s not the only aerospace company partnering with Silicon Valley to share development costs and foster a rapid innovation approach as simultaneous leaps and bounds in electrical, materials and electrical technologies. and processing put aviation within reach of startups.
“The types of constantly changing needs that will come with these emerging industries really require a wide range of collaborations between people in the industry that bring different competencies,” Allen said in an interview. “.
In addition, the heavily indebted American aerospace giant is seen as willing to co-develop know-how based on broad capabilities such as autonomy and advanced manufacturing processes, rather than control. all high end technology in house.
When asked if there could be other partnerships in Boeing’s core aerospace operations, Allen said: “Wisk is just a great example. I’m sure it won’t be the example. single instance.”
Boeing’s investment in the company could yield improvements that could be applied across Boeing’s entire portfolio, he added.
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https://www.thesun.ie/tech/8256777/boeing-flying-taxi-clears-manhattan/ Boeing spends $450 million on a FLYING taxi that runs through Manhattan in 8 minutes