Uber will work with the U.S. space agency to develop software for managing flying taxi routes, Uber's chief product officer Jeff Holden told the Web Summit in Lisbon, Portugal on Wednesday night (AEST). Holden is set to reveal the company's latest air taxi plans at Web Summit, an annual internet conference taking place in Lisbon this week.
The company said Wednesday it hopes to have its first paying passenger in the new flying vehicles by 2023, though it still faces several obstacles.
By the 2028 Olympics, Holden said, the company believes Angelenos will be making "heavy use" of UberAir.
Uber's vehicles will be emissions free, said Holden, and can still fly even if any single part fails. "High costs, safety concerns and regulatory burdens are likely to limit the use of this overhyped technology".
On the new Space Act Agreement with Nasa, Holden said: "This Space Act Agreement paves the way forward for Uber to collaborate with Nasa on the development of next-generation airspace management technology". "We are now a major company on the world stage and you can't do things the same way where you are a large-scale, global company that you can do when you are a small, scrappy start up".
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The ride-sharing company is reaching for the sky with its plans for UberAIR. The construction of what is essentially a miniature helicopter or large drones has been conducted by two Nasa veterans, Mark Moore and Tom Prevot, since early this year. The company says it's working with Sanstone Properties to build Uber skyports. So it's encouraging to hear that Uber is going to connect its obvious business strengths with NASA's effort to create a framework for managing and overseeing traffic of low altitude flyers.
The goal is to make transportation fast, and cheap - and it hopes the service will be ready for commercial operations "several years ahead" of the 2028 Olympics in Los Angeles.
Uber wants to begin testing a type of flying taxi called a vertical take-off and landing (VToL) vehicle, which does exactly what that description suggests.
The plan for launching in LA is to rely on 20 strategically placed flight bases around the city, starting with LAX, Downtown, Sherman Oaks and Santa Monica.