Uber signs deal with NASA to develop flying taxis by 2020

Uber flying car VTOL

This is how Uber envisages its flying cars. Uber

In a white paper published past year, Uber outlined hurdles the company is likely to face, including infrastructure challenges, pilot training and certification and air traffic concerns.

Uber still has a long way to go to get this flying auto concept off the ground.

The ride-sharing startup has said it plans to roll out an on-demand vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) network in Dallas and Dubai by 2020, and Wednesday added Los Angeles to the list. The user open the Uber app, but instead of choosing the options that have been around for years-UberPOOL, UberX-they go straight for UberAIR, because it's nearly dinner time and they're still far away from their home city.

The vehicle is meant to soar over traffic congestion, sharply reducing city travel times.

Most notably, the aircraft and the supporting infrastructure envisioned by the company does not exist yet.

But an UberAir ride above clogged highways would take just 27 minutes - at a price that's competitive with the same journey using UberX. It was finding someone who could develop a business case to build a whole ecosystem supporting flying cars and make the expense of developing the technology worthwhile.

"Los Angeles has always been a place where innovators come to build new ideas that can change how we live our lives".

LA Mayor Eric Carcetti said in a statement: "LA is the flawless testing ground for this new technology, and I look forward to seeing it grow in the coming years".

Alex Comisar, Garcetti's press secretary, said discussions with the company operating the technology in the city are in the preliminary stages. After all, we've been promised flying cars for years.

Uber released a glossily produced promotional video demonstrating what using its aerial taxi service would look like from the perspective of a working mother taking a flight home from work.

According to a forecast from Uber, a current trip between San Francisco and San Jose at rush hour would take two hours and cost around $111.

Uber chief product officer Jeff Holden announced today at the Web Summit conference in Lisbon that the ride-hailing company has made a deal with NASA to create software that will help manage flying taxi routes.

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