Uber teams up with NASA to develop 'flying car'

Uber won't build the flying taxi itself but aviation company partners will use the eCRM-003 (common reference model) as a framework around which they can build aircraft for the Uber Air aerial ride-hailing service.

In 2016, Uber unveiled plans to develop electric flying cars to help improve transportation in cities, alleviate congestion and provide affordable transportation. While an actual flying rideshare system from Uber is likely a long ways away, NASA will help them out with computer modeling and simulations to make sure Uber can create a safe "urban aviation rideshare network" where nobody gets hurt.

The company has just unveiled a prototype of drone-like flying auto, following its plan to launch world's first commercially available air-taxi service by 2023.

Speaking at its second annual "flying taxi" conference in Los Angeles yesterday, Uber revealed details of some of the prototypes to support Uber Elevate's aim of developing on demand urban air transportation.

The partnership between Uber and the Army is the latest in a series of joint ventures between the Department of Defense and the technology industry.

NASA and Uber Technologies have just signed a second space act agreement to strengthen their collaboration in the field of urban air mobility (UAM), the US space agency announced yesterday.

NASA says this agreement represents the first to primarily hone in on urban air mobility operations. According to Jeff Holden, Uber's chief product officer, the domain expertise of both organisations is key to solving the many challenges of UAM.

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

Khosrowshahi said the aircraft will be human-piloted at first, but will eventually be operated autonomously. The service plans to fly demos of its four-passenger seat planes in Los Angeles and the Dallas area by 2020, ready for commercial use by 2023.

NASA's priorities are safety and smooth, quiet integration into the current national air traffic control system.

Unlike Ehang's designs for an autonomous taxi which could theoretically carry one person at a time, Uber is trying a much larger vehicle design in order to squeeze more people in per flight.

  • Zachary Reyes