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Virginia-based Aurora Flight Sciences is now poised to transition an all-electric version of the XV-24A Lightning Strike to the commercial air taxi market.
The US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has agreed to allow the newly-acquired Boeing subsidiary to transition government-funded technology - such as an electric-powered distributed propulsion system – for commercial applications, Aurora announced on 24 April.
Aurora plans to deliver a “minimum viable product” by 2020 for a large-scale demonstration, involving multiple vehicles and controlled centrally by a command centre. If the technology proves feasible, Aurora could deliver a viable, piloted air taxi by 2023, but autonomous functions would come later as they are approved by regulators, Langford says.
Although that ideal progression may not go exactly as planned, Aurora’s staff feels prepared financially for the long-haul with Boeing’s support.
“This is not a market that a Silicon Valley startup is going to be se able to see through in my humble opinion,” Langford says. “That is partly why we threw in with Boeing.”