Uber announces partnership with NASA on flying vehicle service

Uber announces partnership with NASA on flying vehicle service

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

"They essentially have no mass transit infrastructure".

To pull this off, The Verge reports that the company is investing in developing a custom electric "VTOL"-that stands for vertical take-off and landing-aircraft, which we haven't even seen so much as a prototype of yet". In its 2016 documents describing the program, Uber said the elevated planes would be able to go from San Francisco's Marina to downtown San Jose in about 15 minutes, a commute that would typically take two hours by vehicle.

Earlier this week, driverless auto competitor Waymo - a project of Google's parent company Alphabet - announced that it has launched autonomous vehicles without backup humans on board, the first time that had been done. (In São Paulo, where the wealthy frequently use helicopters to avoid the city's infamous gridlock, Uber already offers chopper rides at about $63 each). It will also be much faster than a vehicle ride on the ground, Uber claims.

But really, we're not complaining.

Troubled taxi app Uber has teamed up with American space agency NASA to make "flying taxis" a reality, the two organisations announced on Wednesday. "So lots of good progress there".

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Uber's air travel initiative was announced last October with the promise of putting an end to long commutes, letting passengers hail an aircraft ride with the push of a button. Which, cool. But this all seems so hamfisted.

"Just as skyscrapers allowed cities to use limited land more efficiently, urban air transportation will use three-dimensional airspace to alleviate transportation congestion on the ground", Uber wrote in its white-paper on Uber Elevate, its name for the overall network, which it unveiled in October 2016. Sitting in traffic sucks.

Uber is part of a swarm of companies looking to develop flying cars, including aircraft manufacturer Airbus, Slovakia's AeroMobil and Google co-founder Larry Page's Kitty Hawk startup.

He added: "We want to make this less expensive than driving your own auto". What kind of marketing ploy is this? A tacit admission that it'll only be available for the well-off?

The plan is feasible from a technology perspective, but from a regulatory one it could take several years.

"Our target, and this is ambitious, but I think it's very achievable, is to make this less expensive than driving your own vehicle", Jeff Holden says.

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