…Well, that’s their plan anyway.
International rideshare behemoth Uber has this week announced plans to advance their ambitious UberAIR project, with thanks to a signed partnership with NASA. There have been rumours of such a partnership in the past, but the latest pact, which is titled the “Space Act Agreement”, solidifies the relationship between the two parties. NASA, an independent body, operating under the executive arm of the US Government, will help develop software for Uber, which is a privately owned company backed by venture capital.
The software will allow Uber to formulate realistic simulations of flying taxis in places where air traffic is already busy. This will provide a feasible model on which they can develop autonomous flying taxis (which, in their current projected form, look about half-way between a light plane and a helicopter). Oh and yeah, you read that correctly–autonomous as in no pilot. Yikes.
The VTOL (vertical takeoff and landing) aircraft will be able to ship commuters over greater distances, in much shorter time. This, if feasible (and affordable), could have huge implications, including making it easier to live outside the city, and still commute to the CBD each day in reasonable time.
While Uber are still only beta-testing driverless cars on solid ground, their ambition to take to the skies has been established for some time. This year was their second “Elevate” conference, which teases the public (and, lets be honest, investors), and reveals the current workings of their plans to ferry people around above the clouds.
UberAIR is pitted to become a reality by 2028, though they hope to at least have a prototype electric vehicle up (literally) and running by 2020, with the first commercial trials in Dallas, Los Angeles and one other international city (yet to be decided).