Uber wants to start testing its flying cars by 2020, and now, the firm is reportedly working with NASA to help it achieve that goal.
The ride-sharing firm signed has a deal with NASA to develop an air traffic management system for its aerial taxi service. Uber head of product Jeff Holden announced the new partnership at a technology conference in Lisbon on Wednesday, CNN reported.
The agreement is part of NASA’s Space Act Agreement, a collective of industry giants and other firms working to allow “safe and efficient operations” of flying taxis and small unmanned aerial systems at low altitudes. Alongside the announcement, Uber also published a marketing video showing out its vision for the flying taxi service.
The San Francisco-based firm first announced its ambitious plans in a manifesto last October. The company’s vision involves a fleet of vertical take-off and landing aircraft that will fly at a low altitude, and will be able to pick up and drop off up to four passengers at selected locations. Though no prices have been set, the company expects a flying ride cost’s to be comparable to an UberX trip.
Uber had previously announced plans to test the project in Dallas and Dubai in 2020. But on Wednesday, the company said it’s now adding Los Angeles to its initial trial cities. The company is already testing other projects, like its self-driving car technology, in metropolitan areas across the U.S.
To get a sense of how the system will benefit users, the company used the infamously congested Los Angeles as an example. Uber predicts that a trip from LAX to the Staples Center will take about 30 minutes. By contrast, that same trip takes around 1 hour and 20 minutes by car.
The company wants to have the fast and inexpensive service to be ready for commercial operations in L.A. ahead of the 2028 Olympics, according to CNBC.
Uber’s marketing video concludes with the line that flying cars are “closer than you think.” And, indeed, with NASA on board, the company’s once seemingly far-fetched ambitions now feel a bit more realistic.
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