Uber working with NASA to make flying taxis a reality

Thursday, 09 Nov, 2017

Uber will work with NASA, the US' National Aeronautics and Space Administration, on systems to safely manage and control autonomous flying taxi routes.

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.

NASA also is teaming up with other companies to develop traffic management for these low-altitude vehicles, CNBC reported.

"We are very much embracing the regulatory bodies and starting very early in discussions about this and getting everyone aligned with the vision", Holden said, according to Reuters.

The San Francisco-based firm first announced its ambitious plans in a manifesto last October.

Uber will also rely on outside companies to develop a fleet of aircraft capable of meeting the demands of the taxi service. The company expects prices for the trips to be around the same as those completed using UberX.

The project, dubbed Elevate, hopes to trial aerial taxis in Dallas, Dubai and Los Angeles by 2020.

Eric Garcetti, the mayor of LA who backed Uber's testing in the area, said: "Los Angeles has always been a place where innovators come to build new ideas that can change how we live our lives".

Uber is already testing another emerging technology, self-driving cars, in various cities around the country.

To get a sense of how the system will benefit users, the company used the infamously congested Los Angeles as an example.

A ride on uberAIR from Los Angeles International Airport to Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles would take 27 minutes, compared to the typical 80 minutes by auto, according to Uber. By contrast, that same trip takes around 1 hour and 20 minutes by auto.

In just over two years, Uber says it will let commuters soar over Los Angeles' snarled traffic in flying taxis.

Flying cars such as the kind seen in The Jetsons are unlikely to ever become a reality due to the massive issues they pose, but compact flying vehicles that transport groups of people relatively short distances are more reasonable. And, indeed, with NASA on board, the company's once seemingly far-fetched ambitions now feel a bit more realistic.