Uber flying taxis get a boost from Army, NASA

Uber flying taxis get a boost from Army, NASA

Uber says eVTOL craft will be capable of cruising at up to 200 mphr at heights between 1,000 to 2,000 feet.

Uber has targeted 2020 for eVTOL demonstrations in Dallas, Los Angeles and Dubai, the first three cities to partner with Uber on flying taxi feasibility and infrastructure studies.

The project gained a bit more altitude at Tuesday's kickoff of the two-day Uber Elevate conference in Los Angeles to discuss urban air transportation.

Dr. Jaret Riddick, director of the ARL's Vehicle Technology Directorate, said the collaboration "supports the Army modernization priorities for future vertical lift aircraft".

Uber estimates the price of using air taxis would be 50 cents per mile compared to 35 cents per ground mile. Uber announced NASA will help create industry standards, route paths, and FAA rules and procedures for the new mode of transportation. It'll take only five minutes to recharge the battery, Uber said.

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Wired said that the Uber network would use aircraft made from a variety of manufacturers.

For now, the concept of an autonomous flying rideshare service may still mainly exist within the realm of science fiction, but who knows, with backing from serious minds at NASA and funding from Uber, we could be closer to a world reminiscent of The Fifth Element than we think. NASA says the goal is to create a rideshare network that will allow residents to hail a small aircraft the same way Uber users can now use an app to call a vehicle.

"The new Space Act agreement broadening Uber's partnership with NASA is exciting, because it allows us to combine Uber's massive-scale engineering expertise with NASA's decades of subject matter experience across multiple domains that are key to enabling urban air mobility, starting with airspace systems", said Jeff Holden, Uber's chief product officer.

The news comes amid reports deliberate software tweaking was behind one of Uber's driverless Volvo SUVs hitting and killing a pedestrian wheeling her bicycle across an Arizona road in March.

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