Uber announces partnership with NASA on flying vehicle service

09 November, 2017, 01:25 | Author: Rosa Wright
  • Uber has struck a deal with NASA to develop software for 'flying taxi' routes in the air by 2020

The company said it signed a contract with NASA to develop the software to manage the self-flying taxis, Uber Chief Product Officer Jeff Holden announced at the Web Summit conference Wednesday.

On Wednesday, the ride-sharing service said Los Angeles will be the third city in its pilot program, which already includes Dallas-Fort Worth and Dubai.

The flying taxi project could drastically reduce trip times by avoiding traffic while remaining relatively low-cost.

For Uber, the way around traffic is above it, and they released a new video showcasing how an aerial taxi service could make daily commuting more bearable for a working mom who's trying to get home to her kids. The aerial vehicles will serve as an alternative to helicopters, which Uber says are too noisy, too unsafe, too expensive and not environmentally friendly enough to fly in urban environments.

Alex Comisar, Garcetti's press secretary, said discussions with the company operating the technology in the city are in the preliminary stages.

The company's plans may cause some skepticism considering 2020 is only two years away. Then, there's the lack of infrastructure fundamental for their support.

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In 2019, the recommendations developed by NASA and its partners will be shared with the Federal Aviation Administration, which will determine how they should be integrated into existing air traffic systems. Uber doesn't think so. "I think 2020 is realistic for a vehicle that is not replacing an airplane but replacing a auto", Richard Pat Anderson, director of the Flight Research Center at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, told Wired at the time.

Uber hopes to make congested Los Angeles traffic bearable with flying taxi services from the airport.

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

NASA has said previously it is working with a variety of companies to develop technologies for what it calls "urban air mobility".

That tight timeline means Uber and NASA want to be testing vehicles by 2020. By contrast, that same trip takes around 1 hour and 20 minutes by auto.

The idea of flying cars isn't new, of course, but has been very slow to catch on - much slower than past generations had imagined.

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