Porsche and Boeing signed a memorandum of understanding to explore the developing of flying cars, the companies announced Thursday.
The notion of a "premium personal urban air mobility vehicle" may sound vague, the new joint venture, Aurora Flight Sciences, is tasked with building a "fully electric vertical takeoff and landing vehicle," which would put them in the running with other firms that are working toward similar offerings intended for urban ride-sharing.
What sets Aurora apart is the premium angle. While the announcement is thick with mentions of urban mobility, there's no suggestion that the final product would be intended for sharing or taxi services. It seems clear that Porsche and Boeing are exploring the mobility market from a private-ownership perspective, or, at the very least, exclusivity.
Porsche Boeing premium urban air mobility vehicle
Porsche has experience in both developing fast-charging EV systems—some of the most tech-advanced ones, with the Taycan electric sport sedan's 800-volt system—and operating higher-end concierge services. Boeing's expertise is aerospace, and the company has already built prototype VTOL drones capable of autonomous cargo delivery.
The future of urban mobility may rely on solutions outside of the traditional automotive space. As a recent study suggests, electrification alone may not be enough to meet future energy consumption and emissions goals. Even in cities with 100 percent electric vehicle traffic, the gridlock from increased rides could potentially result in an overall increase in energy consumption.
With that specter on the horizon, adding a third dimension to urban transportation makes a great deal of sense. While there are still technological barriers to opening up city skies to fleets of drones, the more significant hurdles may actually be regulatory.
Even small drone fleets are only now starting to obtain certification for flights operating outside of line-of-sight, and the regulations governing drone flights over populated areas don't even exist yet.