Uber Announces Research Partnership with NASA on Flying Urban Taxis


The Uber CEO said their new model of an air taxi shows the company's vision for the future of transportation.

NASA researchers also will study potential operational safety issues that could develop as UAM new vehicles take to the air in an already crowded air traffic control system.

Uber revealed the new concept at its second Elevate Summit, an annual event that highlights progress towards an ultimate goal of commercializing a fleet of autonomous electric flying taxis in city centers.

Uber Technologies announced a partnership to study urban manned aircraft in conjunction with the USA space agency NASA, following a partnership previous year that focused on unmanned drones.

"The eCRM design is pedestrian friendly, as the propeller blades are as high as possible, leaving ample room for individuals to board and deplane without having to duck", Uber's statement read, according to Fortune. They'll fly 1,000 to 2,000 feet above ground and will be quieter than a helicopter, producing half the noise of a truck driving past a house, the report continues. Uber expects an average mission length of about 25 miles with a 5-minute recharge between trips keeping the eVTOL running for about 3 hours of continuous operation during peak rush hours.

While this may not be exactly what Uber's actual, commercial flying taxi will end up looking like, it's an important first step.

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Uber's concept employed small, fixed-wing planes called VTOLs (vertical takeoff and landing), but the white paper suggested other possibilities in the future.

Like all concept cars, the design that Embraer debuted today may look different once it hits the air.

Flying cars have attracted the attention of other technology companies.

In late 2017, Uber Elevate released a teaser video for UberAir that featured this claim: "The reality of urban air transportation is closer than you think".

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