Economy

NASA teams up with Uber to produce flying taxis of the future

NASA teams up with Uber to produce flying taxis of the future

The announcement coincided with Uber's Second Annual Elevate Summit, being held in Los Angeles on 8 - 9 May.

Uber is ready to add a third city to its flying taxi pilot program.

Uber is planning to develope flying taxi till 2020 and an autometic flying taxi in next 5 to 10 years. The aircraft will be able to go longer distances at higher speeds than previous models and will be part of a "family of eVTOL" that includes three other concept aircraft, according to director of research and development Tine Tomazic.

At this year's summit, Uber unveiled yet another flying vehicle concept, this one being a four-passenger vertical-takeoff-and-landing (VTOL) fixed-wing aircraft, with vertical rotors fixed to those wings, giving an overall design that's not dissimilar to the quadcopters that have become popular in recent years. Boeing, Airbus and a host of aviation startups are also vying for territory in this area, and despite the fact that everything rides on a yet-to-be proven technology, a lot of money and resources are going into such efforts. A network of small, electric aircraft that take off and land vertically (called VTOL aircraft for Vertical Take-off and Landing, and pronounced vee-tol), will enable rapid, reliable transportation between suburbs and cities and, ultimately, within cities. Aurora said it is focusing on autonomous technology. Furthermore, they will evaluate the flying taxi operations in an urban area combined with the evaluation of possible safety issues that may arise during the flight.

Uber first proposed their flying taxi concept - dubbed UberAIR - back in 2016, and it's a project the company is passionate about.

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"NASA is excited to be partnering with Uber and others in the community to identify the key challenges facing the UAM market, and explore necessary research, development and testing requirements to address those challenges", said Shin.

It's not the first pact between the companies.

Pipistrel is an aircraft designer and Uber Elevate partner. The summit is meant to showcase examples of its fleet of airborne taxies, which Uber hopes to introduce to riders in two to five years.

The company plans to begin operating demonstrator flights by 2020, and said it intends the service to be ready for on-demand commercial operations by 2023.


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