The Boeing Co. plans to open the Boeing Aerospace & Autonomy Center in Cambridge, Mass., by 2020, where teams of engineers and technicians will develop autonomous aircraft systems and "enabling" technologies. Boeing will lease 100,000 sq.ft. of research and lab space in a new building that’s part of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Kendall Square mixed-use (lab / research / office / residential / retail) development.
Boeing did not detail its financial commitment to the Boeing Aerospace & Autonomy Center.
Autonomous flight technology has gained relevance in the past year as the sector’s major OEMs have highlighted their efforts to commercialize passenger and cargo systems, including air taxis, shuttle services, and personal aircraft.
Last October, Boeing completed its takeover of Aurora Flight Sciences, an aerospace development group that’s been actively researching autonomous flight technologies for several decades. The current Aurora Flight Sciences R&D center in Cambridge will relocate to the Boeing Aerospace & Autonomy Center once it opens.
Boeing noted that the new Cambridge project follows the recent creation of Boeing NeXt, an organization of researchers and projects working on of future travel and transport, including “a next-generation airspace management system” for “safe coexistence of piloted and autonomous vehicles.”
Employees at the center will help develop new technologies in support of Boeing NeXt programs.
"Boeing is leading the development of new autonomous vehicles and future transportation systems that will bring flight closer to home," stated chief technology officer Greg Hyslop. "By investing in this new research facility, we are creating a hub where our engineers can collaborate with other Boeing engineers and research partners around the world and leverage the Cambridge innovation ecosystem."