Published: Thu, November 09, 2017
Science | By Cecil Little

Uber to work with NASA on flying taxi management systems

Uber to work with NASA on flying taxi management systems

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. The company also announced it has signed an agreement with NASA to develop a specialized air traffic control system for the network.

The company also announced that it will launch its flying auto service UberAIR in Los Angeles in 2020 - just a year later than Blade Runner predicted.

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

"Technology will allow LA residents to literally fly over the city's historically bad traffic, giving them time back to use in far more productive ways, whether more leisure time with friends and family or more time to work", he added.

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An illustrative video clip shows a passenger preparing to board a future Uber air taxi. Uber previously announced cities Dallas, Texas and Dubai as other partner cities.

Los Angeles will be the company's third test city.

The company's plans may cause some skepticism considering 2020 is only two years away.

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The ride sharing company is working with aviation regulators in the United States and Europe to win approvals toward that end, Holden told Reuters. "Our target, and this is ambitious but I think it's very achievable, is to make this less expensive than driving your own vehicle", Holden said.

Uber hopes the fleet will be a well-established before the Olympic Games in the Los Angeles in 2028.

And it seems that Uber has been making the moves to ensure it will happen. NASA is also working with other companies to develop traffic management for these low altitude vehicles.

Uber wants to begin testing a type of flying taxi called a vertical take-off and landing (VToL) vehicle, which does exactly what that description suggests. By contrast, that same trip takes around 1 hour and 20 minutes by vehicle.

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"We are in the earliest stages of learning about this technology and how it might impact our communities, and look forward to continuing the discussion in the coming months and years", he said.

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