The U.S. aircraft manufacturer Boeing announced the creation of a new internal division set up to tap into the growing market of autonomous flight.
Boeing NeXt is to work in partnership with outside companies as it looks to build unmanned vehicles, resolve air traffic control and help model infrastructure on the ground.
Speaking at the Farnborough International Airshow Tuesday, Boeing’s Chief Technology Officer Greg Hyslop said Boeing had the expertise to safely and efficiently shape the new technology.
“The development of these flying vehicles is going to arrive in the next few years. Transportation has to be multi-modal,” said Hyslop.
“The idea is that there is an emerging autonomous market out there and that is why we are creating Boeing NeXt to solve the problems in developing that.”
The aerospace giant also announced that it has embarked on a new partnership with artificial intelligence (AI) company SparkCognition.
Boeing said the collaboration will use blockchain technology and AI to develop an air traffic management system that can track an unmanned vehicle as it flies. The system would also allocate traffic routes and corridors.
Amir Husain, founder and CEO of SparkCognition, said in a statement that urban aerial transport had been estimated as a $3 trillion market which represented the “largest new market in our lifetimes.”
The Boeing NeXt division will draw from resources across the organization and if successful could be hived off as a separate company. It will be led by Steve Nordlund who will continue in his role as vice president of Boeing HorizonX, the firm’s venture capital arm.