Uber and NASA to bring about flying cars by 2020

10 November, 2017, 01:49 | Author: Martin Tyler
  • Uber plans to launch UberAIR in LA in 2020.                  Uber

It might not be such a far-fetched idea now that Uber and NASA are teaming up to create an air-traffic control type system to manage the flying cars.

Now, the goal is to figure out how to make vertical take-off and landing vehicles that can operate safely while flying at a low altitude.

A man hails an Uber in London.

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Uber's chief product officer Jeff Holden has been making some bold claims. By 2023, Uber believes a paid, intra-city flying taxi could be up and running. In the case of Los Angeles, Uber has 20 strategically placed locations around the city for the Uber network. By 2020, Uber plans to start testing the vehicles-which now don't exist-in Los Angeles; by 2028, it'll perform "tens of thousands" of flights per day across the city.

So, we've regularly laughed off the notion of VTOLs because they're always just two years away. Uber says they are planning to announce a manufacturing partner "in the future", but likely candidates include Bell Helicopters (the makers of the military's Osprey helicopters), jet-builder Embraer, and Slovenian light-aircraft manufacturer Pipistrel. There is also now no infrastructure to support such a fleet.

While the ride-hailing service and the USA space agency may seem like an odd couple, the relationship is necessary in order to keep everything running smoothly when Uber ultimately takes to the skies.

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Now I'm starting to think that maybe the key missing component all these years wasn't finding someone to build a vehicle that could fly and drive. But if Uber has its way, that could happen a lot sooner. The company spent three days meeting with experts in aviation technology, venture capital, vehicle manufacturing and regulation, to discuss the realities of flying cars. The company is looking to expand business with electric air taxis that will run in urban areas.

If it all works, the payoff would be a new supply or revenue for the company, and hopefully less stressful rush-hour commutes for consumers.

With a cruising speed of 150-200 mph (214-321 Km/hr), Uber estimates a 15-minute travel time from San Fransisco's Mariana to Downtown, San Joe which now takes around more than two hours by road.

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But despite this flare-up of activity, flying cars have a long path to viability.

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