Uber's Flying Taxi Service Faces Many Hurdles, Even With NASA's Help

09 November, 2017, 01:22 | Author: Becky Perry
  • Uber plans to launch UberAIR in LA in 2020.                  Uber

The ride-hailing service signed a deal with NASA on Wednesday to develop software for managing aerial taxi routes - part of its plan to make self-flying cars a reality by 2020.

Holden said the company hopes to make great use of the new technology by the time Los Angeles' Summer Olympic Games arrive in 2028 - and that NASA will work on an air traffic control grid to monitor the flying taxis and help them avoid mid-air collisions.

In addition, Uber is planning to test a flying taxi service of some sort in Los Angeles in a couple years, introducing an alternative to both traditional air and ground travel.

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

According to Uber's CPO Jeff Holden, the flying taxis will attain speeds in excess of 320km/h and carry up to four people, cutting journey times across major cities. Now Los Angeles will also be added to the roster. Then, there's the lack of infrastructure fundamental for their support.

The ride sharing company is working with aviation regulators in the United States and Europe to win approvals toward that end, Holden told Reuters.

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But some experts don't think Uber is being overly ambitious. Instead the fleet of electric jet-powered vehicles will be developed by existing aircraft manufacturers, including Aurora Flight Services.

The company also announced that Los Angeles would be the third city to partner in pilots of the technology.

And it seems that Uber has been making the moves to ensure it will happen. In February, Bloomberg reported that two former NASA employees, Mark Moore and Tom Prevot, joined Uber to work on aircraft design and traffic management software.

While testing will begin in 2020, Uber wants its flying taxi service to be as normal and affordable as ordering an UberX by 2023.

Now, the contract with NASA will help figure out how various aircraft, including drones, and possibly flying taxis, can coexist safely over urban areas. By contrast, that same trip takes around 1 hour and 20 minutes by auto. The ride-hailing app thinks the first flights could begin within three years in United States cities.

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