Boeing announced Thursday that it will acquire Aurora Flight Sciences, an aviation and aeronautics research company that has partnered with Uber on its flying taxi project. The terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Based in Manassas, Virginia, Aurora specializes in the design of unmanned aircrafts. The Pentagon in 2016 awarded Aurora with an $89 million contract to continue developing its X-Plane, a Vertical Take-Off Landing (VTOL) aircraft that’s being developed to achieve a two-fold speed increase over helicopters.
As the name suggests, the X-Plane doesn’t require a runway to operate because it can take off vertically. Aurora’s concept for Uber’s flying taxi is based on the X-Plane that’s being built for the Department of Defense. The vehicle is a hybrid and relies on 24 ducted fans driven by electric motors to hover.
An Aurora representative said Thursday that it will continue to work with its existing partners and suppliers following the Boeing acquisition.
Uber is also partnering with Pipistrel Aircraft, Embraer, Mooney, and Bell Helicopter on the flying taxi project. Uber has said it will use electric, flying taxis built by partners for an Uber Elevate ride-hailing service that will make its debut in Dallas-Forth Worth and Dubai in 2020
“The combined strength and innovation of our teams will advance the development of autonomy for our commercial and military systems,” Greg Hyslop, CTO and vice president of Boeing Engineering, Test & Technology, said in a press release.