Uber Pairs Up with NASA to Create Software to Control Flying Taxis

Uber and NASA are partnering up to develop software that will allow the driving service company to manage “flying taxi” routes. The routes designed by the pairing would function just like our roadways on the ground, only much higher. 

Chief Product Officer Jeff Holden said Uber would begin testing four-passenger, 200-miles-per-hour flying taxi services across Los Angeles in 2020. The company is looking at Dallas/Fort Worth as its second planned test market, and Dubai may also be considered, CNN reports.

"Combining Uber's software engineering expertise with NASA's decades of airspace experience to tackle this is a crucial step forward for Uber Elevate," Holden said in a statement.“Doing this safely and efficiently is going to require a foundational change in airspace management technologies.”

On Wednesday, Uber announced its new contract with the U.S. National Aeronautical and Space Administration (NASA) covering low-altitude airspace rather than outer space. NASA has previously used similar contracts to develop rockets since the 50s.

Uber wants to create vertical take-off and landing vehicles that are able to fly at a low-altitude.

The company projects that trips from LAX to the Staples Center during rush hour will take less than 30 minutes by flying taxi. By car, it can usually take up to 1 hour 20 minutes.

Uber also expects to offer rides in these flying cars for prices comparable to its UberX service.

NASA announced that they signed a “generic agreement” in January with Uber. The agreement enabled the company to join other partners working to create different driverless air traffic management systems.

Earlier this year, Uber hired NASA veterans to run its aircraft vehicle design team and its air traffic management software program, according to Reuters. Uber is also working with manufacturers including Aurora Flight Sciences, and signed Embraer, Mooney, Bell Helicopter, and Pipistrel Aircraft to “develop new vertical takeoff and landing aircraft for the service”.

Uber’s aiming to get the flying taxi service up in the air before the 2028 Olympics in Los Angeles.

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