The event showed a recharging station for the vehicles at the Springfield airport, part of a network of charging stations, mostly in the Northeast, that will help the vehicles on longer journeys, said Kyle Clark, CEO of BETA Technologies.
The building will be used by BETA Technologies and Joby Aviation, two pioneers in the field of electric vertical take-off and landing aircraft, which are envisioned at least in some cases as flying possibly without pilots.
The new Springfield facility will speed the Air Force’s exploration of these vehicles, a project called “Agility Prime.”
Both BETA, based in Vermont, and Joby, based in Northern California, are deep into “advanced air mobility vehicles,” also known as “air taxis.”
The Air Force launched the $35 million Agility Prime program, seeking to create and speed a market for advanced air mobility aircraft while creating a supply chain to support their production.
The Air Force is working with those start-ups and others in an effort to refine the idea of flying cars. “How do we get (flight) autonomy and how do we get to longer ranges,” Diller said.
Joeben Bevirt, founder and CEO of Joby Aviation, said the work the Air Force is supporting should deliver “incredibly transformative results for everyone in the world.”
He said the Springfield simulator will give pilots the ability to experience firsthand what it’s like to fly these aircraft.
Bevirt also talked about the possibility of using the craft to fight wildfires. They can also be purpose-built for carrying cargo and passengers, he said.
“We can do really transformative things,” he said.
The Springfield airport is also already home to an effort to research use of drones beyond a drone pilot’s visual line of sight.
The goal is for the Air Force and the Federal Aviation Administration to help U.S. manufacturers capture a share of this new market, according to The Wall Street Journal, which cited Diller.
It wasn’t immediately clear Thursday when construction was expected to begin.