Boeing partners with Porsche to develop market for flying cars

Oct 11, 2019, 1:44 PM

Boeing may have a hand in the coming market for flying cars. And its take on the concept aims to transport people in style.

Is the future of affordable travel self-flying cars and electric planes?

No, it’s not a DeLorean (unfortunately), and nuclear power isn’t involved (as far as we know). Boeing is teaming up with Porsche to further push for a flying car market, or what officials call “urban air mobility.” The companies announced the partnership Thursday.

“This collaboration 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,” said Steve Nordlund, Vice President and General Manager of Boeing NeXt. “Porsche and Boeing together bring precision engineering, style and innovation to accelerate urban air mobility worldwide.”

Boeing NeXt is the company’s division that anticipates future transportation needs and trends. Or, as a Boeing press release states, it’s “laying the foundation for a next-generation mobility ecosystem in which autonomous and piloted vehicles can safely coexist.” Interestingly, its website greets visitors with an image of two people holding smartphones and looking to the air — perhaps they just ordered a lift.

A future with flying cars

There has been much speculation over how various factors will influence the next generation of transportation. Self-driving cars, for example, is one such factor. Perhaps self-flying tech can be added to that mix. Technology for vertical takeoff and landing, using only electric energy, will be key to the flying car that Boeing and Porsche intend to develop. That is one primary goal that the companies will strive to accomplish.

This is not the first time Porsche has looked to the skies. The company conducted a study in 2018 which concluded that urban air mobility will begin to make great strides after 2025. The company argues that the flying car market will be more efficient, quick, and cheaper than the current system of “terrestrial transport” aka roads.

“Porsche is looking to enhance its scope as a sports car manufacturer by becoming a leading brand for premium mobility,” said Detlev von Platen, Member of the Executive Board for Sales and Marketing at Porsche AG. “In the longer term, this could mean moving into the third dimension of travel. We are combining the strengths of two leading global companies to address a potential key market segment of the future.”

Boeing has also stated its goal of crafting a flying car system. In 2018, CEO Dennis Muilenburg spoke at a GeekWire Summit and outlined the company’s plan to have fully operational self-flying cars ready in less than five years.

“Imagine a future city that has three-dimensional highways, with flying taxis, flying cars,” Muilenburg said. “That future is not that far away. In fact we are building the prototype vehicles today. We are also investing in the ecosystem that will allow that to operate safely and reliably as it must.”

Boeing is not the only organization with Northwest ties looking to bring cars to the skies. Washington state lawmakers have already passed legislation that seeks to create infrastructure for flying cars, or at least, a system that accommodates air travel for shorter commutes. Also, Vahana is an Oregon-based company developing a fleet of air-taxis — ironically, it’s an American company partnering with a European aerospace company, Airbus.

Rideshare company Uber has also tasked engineers to develop flying cars for its service. It’s goal is to create a flying service to transport people from one point of density to another, and for no less than 60 miles. So basically, Seattle to Bellevue, or Tacoma.

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Boeing partners with Porsche to develop market for flying cars