Uber working with NASA to make flying taxis a reality

Uber working with NASA to make flying taxis a reality

Uber working with NASA to make flying taxis a reality

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The goal is to make transportation fast, and low-cost - and it hopes the service will be ready for commercial operations "several years ahead" of the 2028 Olympics in Los Angeles.

And, unlike Uber's pricey helicopter service, the rides will be relatively affordable compared with other air travel options (Uber expects fares to be comparable to those of its on-the-ground ride-hailing options).

Uber is hoping to trial the project in the vehicle-dense city of Los Angeles in 2020 in addition to the previously announced routes in Dubai and Dallas. "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.

Mr Holden said: "By the time the Olympics come in 2028, we believe Los Angeles residents will be making heavy use of UberAIR, showcasing one of the most advanced urban transportation systems to the world, and because UberAIR is all-electric from day one, it will have a net positive impact on the environment".

The prototype that Holden showed off in a computer-generated video clip would use a distributed electric-propulsion system and provide four passenger seats.

Eric Garcetti, mayor of LA, said the city is the "perfect" place to test the new service.

Alex Comisar, Garcetti's press secretary, said discussions with the company operating the technology in the city are in the preliminary stages. There's also Volocopter, which successfully tested a flying vehicle in Dubai back in September of this year.

Uber plans to develop the software to manage the flying taxi network with the vehicles to be built primarily by Pipistrel Aircraft.

If that's not enough to convince you, Uber predicts that a trip from LAX to the Staples Center during rush hour will be condensed from an hour plus trip, to just a thirty minute plane ride. Uber's partnership is part of NASA's Space Act Agreement, a consortium of industry players working to ensure "safe and efficient operations" of its taxis and other small unmanned aerial systems flying at low altitudes.

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