Uber contracts with NASA to develop technology for flying taxis

Posted November 09, 2017

The mobile taxi service now tests the laws of physics as it prepares to launch its army of flying taxis in Los Angeles, Dubai and Dallas-Fort Worth by 2023. "Our target, and this is ambitious but I think it's very achievable, is to make this less expensive than driving your own auto", Holden said.

The ride-sharing firm signed has a deal with NASA to develop an air traffic management system for its aerial taxi service. Flying cars such as the kind seen in The Jetsons are unlikely to ever become a reality due to the massive issues they pose, but compact flying vehicles that transport groups of people relatively short distances are more reasonable. As far as the taxis themselves, Uber has partnered with five companies that are developing vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) vehicles.

Uber is working with NASA to develop an air traffic management system that could facilitate the launch of flying taxis, the company said today.

The ride-sharing company has hired a former NASA aircraft engineer to help its flying auto project take off.

The NASA deal is the latest in a series of partnerships Uber has struck to get UberAir - which is what the new service is called - off the ground.

Uber has been involved with regulatory tussles around the globe over its app-based taxi service, and is hoping to avoid similar rows over its air plans.

Uber's vehicles will be emissions free, said Holden, and can still fly even if any single part fails.

An Uber self-driving vehicle on the road in San Francisco on March 28, 2017.

"We need a foundational reboot of the airspace system", Holden said. "Uber wouldn't even build something like this if it wasn't for everyone", said Holden. Dubai is now slated to be the first location for launch outside of the US.

Areas the flights could serve include Downtown LA, Santa Monica, Sherman Oaks, and a site within close proximity to LAX.

Holden saw Boeing's acquisition, which was announced last month, as a positive sign for Uber's plan. The city will also play host to Uber's next Elevate conference, where the partners involved in the UberAIR project will meet in spring 2018.

CNET Magazine: Check out a sampling of the stories you'll find in CNET's newsstand edition.