Uber Partners With NASA in Vision for Managing Flying Cars

Delia Watkins
November 9, 2017

Uber is aiming to test the four-passenger, 200 miles per hour flying taxi services across LA in 2020, its second test market after Dallas/Fort Worth. Uber revealed the new NASA Space Act Agreement at the Web Summit conference recently, marking its first deal with a federal agency. "Combining Uber's software engineering expertise with Nasa's decades of airspace experience to tackle this is a crucial step forward", Chief Product Officer Jeff Holden said.

UberAir differs from UberChopper, a helicopter service the company has in the past offered during events such as the Coachella music festival, or during summertime for trips between New York City and the Hamptons.

Earlier this year, Uber contacted authorities in Dubai and the Dallas-Fort Worth area in order to test its flying taxis in those regions.

The ride-hailing firm first unveiled its ambitious plans for a flying-car project previous year, as part of Uber's effort to transform the transportation industry.

First, electric vehicles that perform as the company hopes just don't exist.

But some experts don't think Uber is being overly ambitious.

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It hopes the futuristic aircraft will be ready for demonstration flights by 2020.

"On-demand aviation", the company said in an October 2016 white paper on its flying-taxi service, "has the potential to radically improve urban mobility, giving people back time lost in their daily commutes".

And it seems that Uber has been making the moves to ensure it will happen.

Uber noted it does not plan to make the cars themselves, but will instead partner with multiple manufacturers for prototype vertical takeoff and lander vehicles. This is NASA's push to figure out how unmanned aerial systems (UAS), such as drones that fly at a low altitude, can operate safely.

A ride on uberAIR from Los Angeles International Airport to Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles would take 27 minutes, compared to the typical 80 minutes by auto, according to Uber. In February, Bloomberg reported that two former NASA employees, Mark Moore and Tom Prevot, joined Uber to work on aircraft design and traffic management software.

No word on whether Chitty Chitty Bang Bang is under consideration as a name for the flying cars.

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