Uber working with NASA to fill L.A.'s skies with flying taxis

They'll test air-traffic control systems in 2020, with the 2028 Olympics in mind.

At the Web Summit conference in Lisbon, Portugal, Uber's chief product officer plans to tell attendees that Los Angeles and Dallas will be the first two cities to host the ride-sharing service's proposed network of flying vehicles. It'll comprise automated electric planes with wing-mounted, swiveling propellers — known as Vertical Take-Off and Landing Vehicles, or VTOLs — that give the vehicle the ability to lift off like a helicopter from tall buildings, along with an UberAir app and an air traffic-control system Uber will develop with NASA.

Uber expects L.A. residents to be making "heavy use" of the flying vehicles by the time the city hosts the 2028 Olympics, USA Today reports, citing comments by Jeff Holden, Uber's chief product officer.

"Technology will allow L.A. residents to literally fly over the city's historically bad traffic, giving them time back to use in far more productive ways," Holden says. "At scale, we expect UberAir will perform tens of thousands of flights each day across the city."

Uber signed a deal Wednesday with NASA to develop traffic systems for the unmanned, low-flying vehicles and hopes to begin testing them in 2020, CNBC reports.

"UberAir will be performing far more flights on a daily basis than it has ever been done before. Doing this safely and efficiently is going to require a foundational change in airspace management technologies," Jeff Holden, chief product officer at Uber, said in a statement on Wednesday.

"Combining Uber's software engineering expertise with NASA's decades of airspace experience to tackle this is a crucial step forward for Uber Elevate."

Uber in February hired Mark Moore, a longtime NASA engineer, to work on the project. It said in April it plans to deploy flying taxis in Dallas-Fort Worth and Dubai by 2020. The company says the flying ride-share vehicles present many benefits, including less terrestrial traffic congestion, quicker commutes, quiet operation and less pollution. It outlined its plans in a video released in July, which you can watch above, or check out its white paper.

Related Video:

Share This Photo X