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Boeing’s flying car lifts off in race to revolutionize urban travel

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Boeing Co said its flying car prototype hovered briefly in the air during an inaugural test flight on Wednesday, a small but significant step as the world’s largest planemaker bids to revolutionize urban transportation and parcel delivery services.

Boeing is competing with arch-rival Airbus SE and numerous other firms to introduce small self-flying vehicles capable of vertical takeoff and landing.

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The investments, fueled by leaps in autonomous technology as much as frustration with road congestion, could change the face of the aerospace industry within the next decade.

Boeing’s 30-foot-long (9 meter) aircraft – part helicopter, part drone and part fixed-wing plane – lifted a few feet off the ground and made a soft landing after less than a minute of being airborne at an airport in Manassas, Virginia, Boeing said.

Future flights will test forward, wing-borne flight.

“This is what revolution looks like, and it’s because of autonomy,” John Langford, president and chief executive officer of Boeing subsidiary Aurora Flight Sciences, said in a news release announcing the test flight.

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Major hurdles to Boeing’s vision of “low-stress” mobility – as it is called in the company’s marketing materials – include sorting out numerous critical safety and regulatory issues to meld traditional roadway traffic with fleets of flying cars.

Boeing is working with startup SparkCognition Inc and the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration to develop a traffic-management system for three-dimensional highways, as well as the regulatory framework that will allow waves of autonomous vehicles to zip safely around buildings, the company has said.

Boeing bought Manassas-based Aurora Flight Sciences last year to speed development of a fleet of autonomous air vehicles. With Aurora, Boeing is also working on Uber Technologies Inc’s [UBER.UL] UberAIR service for flights that are planned to be available for order via smartphones around 2023.

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Boeing is looking to achieve a range of 50 miles with two flying car variants capable of carrying two and four passengers each. Tests are planned for later this year on a package-hauling version that can lift up to 500 pounds (226.8 kg).

Competitors range from Airbus to Volocopter, which has tested drone taxis that resemble a small helicopter powered by 18 rotors, and AeroMobil, with a stretch-limousine concept that can turn into a fixed-wing aircraft.

Vertical Aerospace, which completed a flight test last year, aims to offer short inter-city flights in the coming years with a piloted aircraft capable of carrying multiple passengers.

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(This story corrects time element in reference to test flight, which took place on Tuesday.)

Reporting by Eric M. Johnson in Seattle; Editing by Tom Brown

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Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. Like you, we here at Raw Story believe in the power of progressive journalism — and we’re investing in investigative reporting as other publications give it the ax. Raw Story readers power David Cay Johnston’s DCReport, which we've expanded to keep watch in Washington. We’ve exposed billionaire tax evasion and uncovered White House efforts to poison our water. We’ve revealed financial scams that prey on veterans, and efforts to harm workers exploited by abusive bosses. We’ve launched a weekly podcast, “We’ve Got Issues,” focused on issues, not tweets. Unlike other news sites, we’ve decided to make our original content free. But we need your support to do what we do.

Raw Story is independent. You won’t find mainstream media bias here. We’re not part of a conglomerate, or a project of venture capital bros. From unflinching coverage of racism, to revealing efforts to erode our rights, Raw Story will continue to expose hypocrisy and harm. Unhinged from corporate overlords, we fight to ensure no one is forgotten.

We need your support to keep producing quality journalism and deepen our investigative reporting. Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Invest with us in the future. Make a one-time contribution to Raw Story Investigates, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you.



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Has anything changed since Burning Man’s sex assault and labor issues were exposed?

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The last weekend in August marks the start of Burning Man, a week-long, festival in the Nevada desert consisting of freewheeling performance art, fanciful costumes, and a lot of drugs. The anarchic party with more than 50,000 attendees constitutes a pilgrimage for many attendees, lured by the promise of leaving the “default world” behind in exchange for a transformative or even spiritual experience.

This article originally appeared at Salon.

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Truckers are facing a ‘bloodbath’ in their industry — and it’s turning many in the pro-Trump group against him: report

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Truckers are numerous, conservative, and hurting. And despite their widespread support for Donald Trump’s candidacy in 2016, a new report from Business Insider suggests the pain in the industry might be turning these workers away from the president.

The political trends in trucking are not insignificant. According to the American Trucking Associations, there were an estimated 3.5 million truck drivers in 2018. RTS Financial has found that there are 7.4 million jobs total “tied to the trucking industry.” And Business Insider reported that nearly 90 percent of truckers are registered voters, higher than the general population.

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WATCH: Trump’s collusion with Russia is now a topic for impeachment — along with obstruction and racism

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President Donald Trump's interactions with Russia are now a topic of the impeachment investigation.

"There was an important development in support for impeachment proceedings in the House of Representatives today," MSNBC anchor Lawrence O'Donnell reported Tuesday. "Important both in who the new support comes from and what that support is based on."

"Congresswoman Lauren Underwood of Illinois is one of the freshmen Democrats who flipped a Republican district last year in winning her election. She brings the total number of House Democrats supporting impeachment now to 126 -- a majority of the Democrats' 235 members of the House," he explained.

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