Uber and NASA partner to trial flying cars in Los Angeles by 2020
Uber is working with the space agency to put its new air traffic system into production.
Ride-sharing company Uber is aiming to test the real-world application of flying cars in Los Angeles’ skies in just a few years, anticipating “heavy use” of its forthcoming uberAir services in time for the 2028 Olympics.
During his speech at the 2017 Web Summit in Lisbon, Uber chief product officer Jeff Holden said the company signed a deal with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) to develop and utilize their unmanned aerial systems traffic management (UTM) program in collaboration with uberAIR.
“NASA is very focused on getting UTM adoption and pressure-testing the framework and make sure it works correctly,” Holden said. “Uber is actually trying to put this new air traffic system into production.”
Holden revealed Los Angeles has become the third city, after Dallas-Fort Worth and Dubai, to be selected as a key location for Uber to begin trialing its aerial transport services, expected to be underway by 2020.
uberAir, a fleet of flying transport vehicles, was announced earlier this year in April as part of the ride-sharing company’s on-demand aviation division, Uber Elevate. A White Paper was released in late October last year.
Uber and NASA will work together to figure out how these unmanned aerial systems can operate safely, including vertical take-off and landing capabilities, flying at low altitudes and avoiding aerial traffic congestion.
Uber plans to hold community meetings for residents to voice concerns regarding noise, pollution or access. The company also partnered with LA-based Sandstone Properties to develop rooftop launch pads for aircraft.
Prior to demo testing in LA, Uber will work with air traffic controllers to fly a fleet of low-flying helicopters above and around Dallas-Fort Worth Airport in order to test the efficiency of NASA’s UTM technology.
Check out a preview of uberAIR’s vision for the future of urban air transportation in the video below.
The video depicts a potential uberAIR passenger booking a flight through her Uber app, taking an elevator to the rooftop of a building where a “skyport” is operating multiple departures and arrivals. The passenger then taps her phone to gain access to the rooftop via a turnstile system and boards her flight home to her family.
However, although flying autonomous vehicle technology is developing rapidly, research published by Gartner suggests it’s likely to be more disruptive than transformational, citing costs, safety concerns and regulations.
Uber recently unveiled a new in-app feature which allows riders to add extra stops to their desired route. Other additions to Uber’s offering include food delivery service Uber Eats and other partnerships with car-sharing, bike transport and public transit.
The ride-sharing service just released its own branded credit card that rewards users for dining out, traveling and, of course, hailing Uber rides. The Uber Visa Card comes with no annual fee and a trunk full of perks.
Until there are vehicles flying overhead, compare car insurers that cover accidents which occur on the road.
Picture: uber Elevate