Uber's Flying Taxi Service Faces Many Hurdles, Even With NASA's Help

UberAIR will cost the same as Uber X at launch                  Uber

"Combining Uber's software engineering expertise with Nasa's decades of airspace experience to tackle this is a crucial step forward", Chief Product Officer Jeff Holden said.

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.

Eric Garcetti, mayor of LA, said the city is the "perfect" place to test the new service.

The company's plans may cause some skepticism considering 2020 is only two years away.

She checks in with her app for an UberAir flight, and joins three other passengers in a piloted electric plane that looks like a small Cessna with the exception of rotating wing-mounted propellors that swivel, enabling the craft to take off vertically like a helicopter. Rather than offering the service as a luxury product (trips to Coachella Valley from Los Angeles cost passengers $4,170 each way), Uber envisions UberAir as a commuter option, with fares comparable to taking an UberX vehicle ride. Then, there's the lack of infrastructure fundamental for their support.

Uber hopes to make congested Los Angeles traffic bearable with flying taxi services from the airport.




Such hurdles include the need for approval from the US Federal Aviation Administration for operation outside normal aircraft corridors, which will be hard to obtain due to stringent safety and regulation requirements. Uber doesn't think so.

And it seems that Uber has been making the moves to ensure it will happen.

Uber is working with NASA to develop software for managing low-altitude air taxis, potentially opening the door for a future where people can travel short distances in the air rather than on the ground.

If it all works, the payoff would be a new supply or revenue for the company, and hopefully less stressful rush-hour commutes for consumers.

A ride on uberAIR from Los Angeles International Airport to Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles would take 27 minutes, compared to the typical 80 minutes by vehicle, according to Uber.

The idea of flying cars isn't new, of course, but has been very slow to catch on - much slower than past generations had imagined.

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