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NASA, Uber explore urban air mobility

12 May 2018
NASA, Uber explore urban air mobility

This is a big step forward from their previous agreement, which merely stated that the two intend to work together on the project, notes Sputnik News, citing the Verge.

Uber's new design is an update on both the first concept it developed with NASA in November 2017, and the more recent cabin design showcased at the Consumer Electronics Show in January 2018.

Uber envisions a world in which flying Uber Air would be as cheap as driving in your vehicle - about 44 cents per mile. Boeing and Airbus have air taxi projects, and Larry Page, co-founder of Google, backs a company called Kitty Hawk, which shared a video of its flying taxi concept last year-though it looks more like a flying Jet Ski.

Flying cars give Uber an opportunity to plan optimistically for the future while its other foray into futuristic vehicles faces significant challenges.

Uber's first Space Act Agreement with NASA, which was signed in November 2017, was a general statement of an intent to collaborate, The Verge reported. The simulations should highlight potential safety issues as new aircraft are added to urban airspace that is already crowded.

A number of companies from different countries are competing in developing flying cars, which are to tackle busy traffic and ax travel time. In technical terms, it is known as the electrical Vertical Takeoff and Landing (eVTOL) concept. It is fully electric and quieter than the usual helicopter. Electrification would also make the vehicle much cheaper to run and maintain, but that's perhaps the biggest problem these vehicles have with becoming reality. Uber expects the airborne taxi service will cost the same as an Uber Black over the same distance but once the service has enough passengers, it will decrease to UberX rates for the same trip.

Karem, the latest company to join Elevate, wants to build a working prototype of its eVTOL by 2020 and put them into commercial use by 2023.

Nasa will use the data supplied by Uber to simulate a small passenger-carrying aircraft as it flies through the airport's airspace during peak scheduled air traffic.

The ride-hailing company announced during its two-day Elevate Summit that it's taking applications until Jul. 1 from global cities that want to become an uberAIR launch city.