Story at a glance
- Electric air taxi startup Wisk Aero announced Monday it secured $450 million in funding from Boeing.
- The company was formed in 2019 as a joint venture between Boeing and Kitty Hawk, an electric air taxi company launched by Google co-founder Larry Page.
- An eVTOL aircraft works much like a small helicopter, but without the noise and pollution associated with traditional gas-powered helicopters, enabling the aircraft to operate in heavily populated areas.
Aerospace giant Boeing is making big investments in autonomous electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft that could fly passengers and cargo around busy cities in the not-too-distant future.
Electric air taxi startup Wisk Aero announced Monday it secured $450 million in funding from Boeing to support the development of pilotless flying taxis, establishing Wisk as “one of the most well-funded Advanced Air Mobility (AAM) companies in the world.”
The company was formed in 2019 as a joint venture between Boeing and Kitty Hawk, an electric air taxi company launched by Google co-founder Larry Page.
An eVTOL aircraft works much like a small helicopter, but without the noise and pollution associated with traditional gas-powered helicopters, enabling the aircraft to operate in heavily populated areas.
Dozens of companies are aiming to make flying taxis a reality in the near future. California-based Joby Aviation, which went public last summer, announced last week it completed the fastest flight of an eVTOL aircraft to date, reaching 205 mph in its six-motor air taxi prototype. The company is working with NASA to help develop air taxis, drones and other types of aircraft to move people and goods in cities.
But while Wisk is developing eVTOL aircraft alongside several other startups, the company is focusing its efforts on autonomous flights to get the upper hand on its competitors.
“With this investment, we are reconfirming our belief in Wisk’s business and the importance of their work in pioneering all-electric, AI-driven, autonomous capability for the aerospace industry,” Marc Allen, chief strategy officer of Boeing, said in a statement.
“Autonomy is the key to unlocking scale across all AAM applications, from passenger to cargo and beyond. That’s why straight-to-autonomy is a core first principle,” Allen said.
Wisk said the funding from Boeing will advance the development of its sixth generation aircraft, which it says is the “first-ever candidate for certification of an autonomous, all-electric, passenger-carrying aircraft in the U.S.”
“Within five years following the certification of its 6th generation aircraft, Wisk intends to operate one of the industry’s largest fleets of AAM eVTOL aircraft,” the company said.
All that of course hinges on the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration and other government regulators giving Wisk the approval the company needs to launch its commercial operation and carry passengers. No eVTOL aircraft has been given approval for commercial operation at this time.
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