Uber says its fleet of flying taxis is just around the corner

Ismael LynchMay 09, 2018

As part of the deal, Uber will share its data with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration to move the world closer to developing air traffic management systems for flying cars and air taxis.

Uber, which plans to launch flying taxis within two years, has released photos of flying taxi design models it will show at Tuesday's Uber Elevate Summit in Los Angeles.

At this year's summit, Uber unveiled yet another flying vehicle concept, this one being a four-passenger vertical-takeoff-and-landing (VTOL) fixed-wing aircraft, with vertical rotors fixed to those wings, giving an overall design that's not dissimilar to the quadcopters that have become popular in recent years. After rising in the air, two of the rotors flip to a horizontal position to push the winged hybrid craft forward at speeds of up to 200 miles per hour.

"One of the key tenets of this technology is for us to have four riders in each vehicle".

Uber is one of several companies, including aircraft makers Boeing Co and Airbus SE and a venture backed by Alphabet Inc co-founder Larry Page, that are investing in the concept of small, automated and electrified aircraft that could be used to ferry passengers or cargo across congested cities. After the initial jokes about what to call a potential ridesharing air transportation service, the concept spurred discussion of the practicality and challenges of flying cars.

The company plans to start tests for an air transportation service, Uber Air, in 2020 in Los Angeles, Dallas-Fort Worth, and Dubai.

Uber's chief product officer, Jeff Holden, said the program is meant to be "community friendly".

While the aircraft will feature human pilots at first, Uber hopes to eventually make them autonomous.

Uber has been working on a flying vehicle concept for quite some time. Batteries with sufficient energy density to work don't exist yet, and Uber asking for them to exist won't help.

Khosrowshahi took over a company in crisis when he replaced Travis Kalanick as CEO in August. Khosrowshahi was brought over from his previous job as the CEO of Bellevue, Wash. -based Expedia to take Kalanick's place.

I'm here at Elevate, so be on the lookout for more news over the next couple of days.

"Ambition is what has created this company from the very beginning", Khosrowshahi said.

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