Uber, NASA Team Up on Flying Taxis


Driverless air traffic management system in the works

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Uber will join NASA in developing software to manage “flying taxi” routes, the ride-hailing company announced this week.

The plan calls for Uber to begin testing flying taxi services across the Dallas-Fort Worth area and then in Los Angeles by 2020. The vehicles would carry four passengers and be capable of traveling 200 mph.

Uber’s flying taxi service is expected to really pick up starting in 2023, when the company begins offering paid flights within cities. The company says it’s working with regulators in Europe and the U.S. to make this vision a reality.

Meanwhile, NASA is already deep into its work developing driverless air-traffic management systems. It has gone through the second phase of a four-phase process in testing this technology. Phase 1 and Phase 2 involved tests in sparsely populated areas, while the latter two phases will see these vehicles head to more populated regions. Uber doesn’t enter the equation until the last phase, which begins in March 2019.

Currently, Uber is working on software for flying taxi networks with the help of partners including Aurora Flight Sciences.

Customers could hail a flying taxi much in the same way they would with an Uber car: via smartphone. The company imagines electric jet-powered vehicles with multiple small rotors that would allow for vertical take-off and landing. The vehicles would mix characteristics from helicopters, drones, and fixed-wing aircraft.

Uber isn’t the only company with its head in the sky. Airbus says it could start production on a flying car in 10 years, and Dutch company PAL-V has already introduced the first commercially available flying car.

Source: Reuters, Uber via Twitter

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