Porsche and Boeing are joining forces to advance in the emerging interest of urban flights, with a plan for a high-end machine capable of taking off and landing vertically.
The duo will create a team to explore the market potential for premium flying vehicles, they said Thursday after signing an initial pact.
The work will involve engineers from the Boeing Aurora Flight Sciences unit and testing a prototype.
“Porsche is looking to improve its reach as a sports car manufacturer, becoming a leading brand in premium mobility,” Porsche sales chief Detlev von Platen said Thursday. “This could mean moving to the third dimension of travel.”
Transportation and technology companies around the world are intensifying the development of drones and other machinery to add more flexible options for people and goods in increasingly congested urban centers.
The German venture Volocopter GmbH, backed by Daimler AG and the largest shareholder of the Mercedes-Benz manufacturer, Zhejiang Geely Holding Group, recently completed a test flight in Stuttgart with a prototype that looks like a mix between a helicopter and a drone.
The association marks Boeing’s latest foray into futuristic vehicles that could one day fly above cities. In addition to buying from the pioneer drone manufacturer Aurora Flight Sciences in 2017, the company is financing a laboratory at Stanford University dedicated to new flying machines.
Commercial flying taxis could take off in the next five years, Boeing chief executive Dennis Muilenburg said last week. Huge obstacles remain before drones can be widely deployed, including an air traffic management system capable of staying in a chaotic city environment.
The Porsche consulting arm expects the urban air mobility market to pick up after 2025.
Research indicates that the new transportation options could move passengers “faster and more efficiently than current conventional land transportation, at a lower cost and with greater flexibility,” the Volkswagen AG unit said in a statement.