It appears Leonardo da Vinci’s dream of building a personal flying machine is far from dead.
Boeing is sponsoring a GoFly competition that challenges adults around the globe to build a flying device for one person. The invention can be a jetpack, drone, or even a “motorcycle in the sky,” Boeing CTO Greg Hyslop said in a YouTube video, as long as it’s capable of taking off vertically and carrying one person for 20 miles.
“We are truly on a mission to make people fly, but in a sense, it’s also a story about the future of transportation,” Gwen Lighter, the head of the GoFly competition, told Business Insider. “We are at the brink of a legitimate shift in the way we travel from one place to the other and there has never been more activity or excitement in this space as there is now.”
The competition was officially announced on Tuesday at the SAE 2017 AeroTech Congress & Exhibition in Fort Worth, Texas. Lighter said the competition will occur in three phases.
The first phase in May 2018 will award 10, $US20,000 prizes based on papers with the best technical specifications and drawings. The second phase in March 2019 will award four, $US50,000 prizes to the prototypes with the best VTOL capabilities.
The competition will culminate in a “fly off” in October 2019 that will name a Grand Prize winner.
The GoFly prize is meant to challenge aerospace inventors rather than come up with a commercial product. But Lighter said she’s confident that recent breakthroughs in battery and autonomous tech could make the jetpack a reality someday.
Boeing is far from the only company interested in personal flying devices. Dubai is testing a flying taxi drone that was built by autonomous taxi service Volocopter. And Google co-founder Larry Page is also building a flying car through his startup, Kitty Hawk.
“What we are talking about is the stuff of your childhood dream when you wanted to fly,” Lighter said.
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