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News Worms


Uber to work with NASA on flying taxi management systems

Uber to work with NASA on flying taxi management systems

Uber unveiled today an agreement with NASA that advances the company's plan to bring flying vehicles to major USA cities.

It hopes the futuristic aircraft will be ready for demonstration flights by 2020.

The company said it signed a contract with NASA to develop the software to manage the self-flying taxis, Uber Chief Product Officer Jeff Holden announced at the Web Summit conference Wednesday.

Los Angeles will be the company's third test city.

Uber however won't be constructing said aircraft. Uber isn't the only company toying with such technology - a number of other companies, including startup AeroMobil, are also developing airborne vehicles. "Uber wouldn't even build something like this if it wasn't for everyone", said Holden.

"UberAir will be performing far more flights over cities on a daily basis than has ever been done before", Holden said.

The city of Los Angeles has shown initial support for the project, with Mayor Eric Garcetti saying L.A.is the "perfect testing ground for this new technology".

Designs for the aircraft - which differ from helicopters in appearance, technical features, efficiency and fuel consumption - are yet to be finalized.

Share this article: The logo of the ride-sharing company Uber. It plans to build no aircraft itself.

Uber noted it does not plan to make the cars themselves, but will instead partner with multiple manufacturers for prototype vertical takeoff and lander vehicles.

Such hurdles include the need for approval from the US Federal Aviation Administration for operation outside normal aircraft corridors, which will be hard to obtain due to stringent safety and regulation requirements.

The vehicles look a bit like the V-22 Osprey tilt-rotor planes that can take off vertically, then tilt the rotors forward for speedy horizontal flight. But for a larger-scale service that's economically viable? The company is looking to speed development of a new industry of electric, on-demand, urban air taxis, Holden said, which customers could order up via smartphone in ways that parallel the ground-based taxi alternatives it has popularised while expanding into more than 600 cites since 2011.

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