Boeing to Design Autonomous Aircraft at MIT

While fighting a fierce battle on the space exploration front with Elon Musk’s SpaceX, Boeing is on a verge to clash with its long-lived foe Airbus on the autonomous aircraft scene as well.
Aurora XV-24A LightingStrike experimental plane 1 photo
The Europeans are already in cahoots with Audi in a battle for flying taxi supremacy against Uber and have announced in May the creation of the Urban Air Mobility division which will be testing the developed products in Ingolstadt.

With that in mind, the Americans from Boeing performed a flanking maneuver this week and announced the creation of the new Boeing Aerospace & Autonomy Center in Cambridge, Massachusetts, on the grounds of MIT’s mixed-use district.

The center will be tasked with designing, building and flying autonomous aircraft. Work will be conducted there by both Boeing employees and those from its Aurora Flight Sciences subsidiary.

Aurora, a company purchased by Boeing in late 2017, is already specializing in the creation of autonomous aircraft, starting with the algorithms and architectures that govern them and ending with clean sheet aircraft designs.

"Boeing is leading the development of new autonomous vehicles and future transportation systems that will bring flight closer to home," said in a statement Greg Hyslop, Boeing chief technology officer.

"By investing in this new research facility, we are creating a hub where our engineers can collaborate with other Boeing engineers and research partners around the world and leverage the Cambridge innovation ecosystem."

The aerospace giant did not provide any details about what type of autonomous aircraft it is working on. Aurora, on the other hand, is already developing several vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) projects, including the eVTOL, the Orion drone, or the optionally piloted aircraft (OPA) Centaur.

Perhaps the most exciting of their products is the XV-24A LightingStrike experimental plane, a platform which will be used to demonstrate the endless possibilities provided by tilt wing and canard configurations.


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