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Boeing to buy Aurora to boost autonomous flight

eVTOL aircraft
Aurora Flight Sciences’ electric-powered, autonomous eVTOL aircraft is being developed for Uber. (Aurora Flight Sciences Photo)

Boeing says it has struck a deal to acquire Aurora Flight Sciences, a leader in the field of autonomous flight, to beef up its own capabilities on that frontier.

Aurora has been working with Uber on a new type of electric-powered autonomous aircraft that takes off and lands vertically. The Virginia-based company has reportedly worked with Google as well on that company’s hush-hush Project Skybender, which is aimed at developing high-altitude drones for long-duration flights.

Boeing, meanwhile, has been raising its profile in autonomous flight. It already owns Insitu, a company headquartered in Bingen, Wash., that specializes in unmanned aerial systems for military and civil applications. And this year, Boeing executives said they were moving forward with tests that could ultimately lead to self-flying planes.

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Passenger Drone joins race to market flying cars

Passenger Drone
Passenger Drone’s prototype undergoes a flight test in Switzerland. (Passenger Drone via YouTube)

“Taking autonomous to the sky: You knew it was coming.”

Swiss-based Passenger Drone is following up on the tag line from one of its videosby declaring that its autonomous flying machine is indeed taking people into the sky on test flights.

The car-sized, electric-powered, 16-rotor copter has been stealthily under development for months. Robotic flight tests began in Switzerland in May, kicking off a succession of outings with simulated payload weights.

The first flights with passengers on board took place in early September, Peter Delco, one of the partners in the project, told GeekWire in an email.

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Boeing studies pilotless plane concepts

Future Boeing plane
Artist’s concept shows a futuristic Boeing airplane in flight. (Boeing illustration)

EVERETT, Wash. – The Boeing Co. says it’s on a path that could ultimately lead to self-flying commercial passenger airplanes, starting with simulations and ground-based experiments this year and progressing to flight tests by 2019.

“In commercial air transportation, we are not yet in this business,” Mike Sinnett, vice president of product development at Boeing Commercial Airplanes.

However, he said aviation industry trends are pushing the company to look into autonomous options.

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