Thursday, 23 November, 2017

Uber unveils plans to develop flying auto to soar over traffic congestion

NASA is working with Uber on its flying taxi project NASA, Uber are serious about bringing flying taxis to cities by 2023
Jeanne Townsend | 09 November, 2017, 00:55

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

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

Uber chief product officer Jeff Holden announced today at the Web Summit conference in Lisbon that the ride-hailing company has made a deal with NASA to create software that will help manage flying taxi routes.

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.

Uber is also partnering with Sandstone Properties to develop the take-off and landing hubs for the vehicles. "There is a reality that Uber has grown up a lot as a company", Holden said in an interview ahead of his speech.

"UberAir will be performing far more flights over cities on a daily basis than has ever been done before", Holden said.

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He said: "Los Angeles has always been a place where innovators come to build new ideas that can change how we live our lives". It plans to build no aircraft itself.

The agreement is part of NASA's Space Act Agreement, a collective of industry giants and other firms working to allow "safe and efficient operations" of flying taxis and small unmanned aerial systems at low altitudes.

The ride sharing company is working with aviation regulators in the United States and Europe to win approvals toward that end, Holden told Reuters. On top of that the company must ensure the safety and stability of the batteries that will power the aircraft. It's been a really interesting process getting our vehicle manufacturing partners aligned on performance specifications so that they're building vehicles that align with what we need to make Elevate successful.

"When you have a pilot in the aircraft, you'll see consumer adoption pretty fast", he said. But for a larger-scale service that's economically viable?

"Flying autonomous vehicle technology is developing rapidly, but it's likely to be more disruptive than transformational", analysts Kimberly Harris-Ferrante and Michael Ramsey said.

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