Economy

Uber and NASA team up to study 'flying taxis'

Uber and NASA team up to study 'flying taxis'

Its plan is to have a sky full of small drone-like taxis shuttling customers around cities at far faster speeds than driving - all with the request of a ride in the Uber app. Airbus is also a competitor.

For its part, Uber imagines using vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) aircraft to carry people around urban centers. Aurora said it is focusing on autonomous technology.

Were such a service to get off the ground, it would mean a lot more air traffic for urban centers, and that's where NASA comes in.

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.

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Uber has brought the model to it's Uber Elevate summit in LA this week, in the hopes of engaging some of the 700 industry, government, and academic individuals who may help make the flying taxi fleet a reality.

"We've been thrilled by the inbound interest from the global community, and we've now formalised a process whereby interested cities can engage with Uber directly and articulate their views on how UberAIR can positively impact their market, and how they can help in launching and scaling the service", said Uber's chief product officer Jeff Holden.

NASA says this agreement represents the first to primarily hone in on urban air mobility operations. The new aircraft uses dedicated propulsion systems for both cruising and vertical lift, as well as the ability to carry between two and six passengers.

The space agency will take Uber's data, and simulate a small passenger-carrying plane as it makes it way through the airport's airspace during peak hours.

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Uber added that it plans to start launching demonstrations for flights by 2020 while targeting commercial trips by 2023.

Earlier today, Uber debuted its combo helicopter-airplane reference design for contractors building the craft.

Uber also announced a partnership with E-OneMoli for a new battery technology for battery packs for electric VTOL vehicles (eVTOL).

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