The idea of a bunch of unmanned flying vehicles zipping around the city may seem a little unnerving to some, but it’s not just something seen in science fiction movies anymore. The concept is already being tested and now the airline manufacturer Boeing is getting in on the game. The company has announced a project that will develop technology for the industry.
Boeing has invested $32 million in SparkCognition, an artificial intelligence (AI) company based in Texas. The goal is to create a platform that can track unmanned air vehicles, assign flight corridors and “provide a standardized programming interface to support package delivery, industrial inspection and other commercial applications.”
SparkCognition’s CEO, Amir Husain, explains, “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. The world’s number one aviation leader partnering with the world’s most innovative industrial AI company means that unparalleled experience in safety, innovation, scale, and reliability will be brought to bear to address this monumental opportunity.”
Boeing has already created a division specifically for development of system traffic management (UTM) and next-generation travel. The division, Boeing NeXt, will use Boeing’s advanced research and development capabilities to further innovation in industries such as advanced propulsion and autonomous flight, while at the same time focusing on smart city architecture. The company’s chief technology officer, Greg Hyslop, asserts, “We’re at a point in history where technological advances and societal trends are converging to demand bold solutions and a different way to travel. Boeing has the experience and expertise to safely and efficiently shape this emerging world of travel and transport. Through Boeing NeXt, we intend to build on our legacy of opening up new frontiers to move people and goods with proven technologies.”
Boeing NeXt has already begun developing new technologies for the future of travel. It recently presented its passenger-carrying hypersonic concept to the world and has also developed an electrical vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) vehicle. The eVTOL vehicle could possibly revolutionize the mobility ecosystem by offering urban air travel and on-demand cargo transport services.
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