Boeing has invested $450 million in Wisk, a Silicon Valley air taxi venture that aspires to develop the first autonomous, all-electric passenger-carrying aircraft certified in the United States, the companies said Monday.
Flying electric taxis have been seen as a promising, emissions-free solution to address urban congestion. However, Mountain View, California-based Wisk’s emphasis on autonomy is expected to push back its development timeframe compared with some rival concepts.
Marc Allen, chief strategy officer for Boeing, said in a statement that autonomy “is the key to unlocking scale,” meaning that “straight-to-autonomy is a core first principle.”
In 2019, Boeing joined the venture, which is also backed by Kitty Hawk Corporation, a company co-founded by Google co-founder Larry Page. Boeing has not disclosed the size of prior funding rounds.
Some other companies in the flying taxis space have envisioned piloted air taxies as a first step towards autonomous service.
Wisk has not released a timetable for commercialization, but it envisions some 14 million annual flights serving more than 40 million people within five years of certification.
“We recognize that our self-flying first approach means that we will not be first to market,” a Wisk spokesperson said. “We’re ok with that. However, our progress to-date and our leadership in autonomous flight means that we will be first to market with a fully autonomous, scalable and accessible” electric air taxi.
Monday’s announcement follows public stock listings of a number of other companies in the flying taxi space, including Vertical Aerospace and Joby Aviation.