Uber Elevate Unveils Prototype for Flying Taxis That Will Soar Over DFW

Uber, US Army Join to Create Flying Taxis And Quieter Drones

Uber executives are providing an update on their plans to put flying cars in the air by 2020, with commercial rides beginning in 2023, but the most pointed comments from CEO Dara Khosrowshahi address the rideshare company's present challenges. The video depicts a woman booking an UberAir through the app, heading up to an Uber "skyport" at the top of a building, and then sharing her ride with three other passengers while gazing down at the bumper-to-bumper freeway below. The vehicles resemble helicopters, but are quieter with four prop rotors on each wing and electric propulsion to cut down on emissions.

"We want to create the network around those vehicles so that regular people can take these taxis in the air for longer distances when they want to avoid traffic at affordable prices", Khosrowshahi said on CBS This Morning.

Elevate, Uber's light aircraft ridesharing project, announced newly established partnerships with government and private industry groups in the interest of developing the service, USA Today reports.

Imagine summoning a flying taxi instead of a vehicle using Uber's smartphone app. Uber is hoping to make that happen in the near future and announced today a research partnership with NASA to study manned urban taxis. When Uber hired Mark Moore, a former NASA advanced aviation engineer to lead Uber Elevate engineering in early 2017, the flying taxi service crossed the line from speculation for its own sake to a still-undefined but possible future project.

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Uber's chief product officer, Jeff Holden, said the program is meant to be "community friendly". At higher altitudes (1,000-2,000 feet) a propeller in the back of the craft takes over, allowing it to fly like an airplane-which is faster and more energy efficient than staying in helicopter mode.

The issue of self-driving vehicles is a sensitive one for Uber, due to an accident involving an Uber autonomous auto that killed a pedestrian in Arizona in March. Batteries with sufficient energy density to work don't exist yet, and Uber asking for them to exist won't help. He said "clean, quiet, safe" vehicles flying through cities will eventually become commonplace.

He said "what happened in the past was deeply unpleasant and wrong, but the company from a bottoms-up standpoint started changing, and I think it continues apace". Basically, it's a circlejerk for people to talk in highly generic terms about flying cars that always seem to be "just three years away", whether it's 2001 or 2018.

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