Uber and NASA have just finalized a deal that should make "on demand aviation" a reality.
The ride-hailing giant hopes to start testing in 2020, with flying taxis getting trial runs in Dubai, Dallas-Forth Worth, as well as Los Angeles. The announcement was made at the Web Summit tech conference in Lisbon.
Now, the goal is to figure out how to make vertical take-off and landing vehicles that can operate safely while flying at a low altitude. By the way, technically, such a vehicle would be more plane than car.
"UberAir will be performing far more flights on a daily basis than it has ever been done before. Doing this safely and efficiently is going to require a foundational change in airspace management technologies," said Uber chief product officer, Jeff Holden.
"Combining Uber's software engineering expertise with NASA's decades of airspace experience to tackle this is a crucial step forward for Uber Elevate."
Earlier this year, Uber contacted authorities in Dubai and the Dallas-Fort Worth area in order to test its flying taxis in those regions. Now, we've learned that the ride-hailing company also plans on performing trial runs in Los Angeles in 2020, aiming to get the service up and running before the 2028 LA Olympics.
"We are bringing uberAIR to Los Angeles in no small part because Mayor Garcetti has embraced technology and innovation, making LA a hub for the future. In this case, technology will allow LA residents to literally fly over the city's historically bad traffic, giving them time back to use in far more productive ways, whether more leisure time with friends and family or more time to work."
"At scale, we expect uberAIR will perform tens of thousands of flights each day across the city - at those levels, all the time savings will have a noticeable positive impact on the region's economy. By the time the Olympics come in 2028, we believe Los Angeles residents will be making heavy use of uberAIR, showcasing one of the most advanced urban transportation systems in the world, and because uberAIR is all-electric from day one, it will have a net positive impact on the environment," concluded Holden.
As for how much such a trip would cost, Uber expects similar prices to those you get when using UberX. However, there's obviously no comparison when it comes to journey length.