Uber Elevate, the “on demand aviations project” of Uber is getting a lift. Uber’s head of product, Jeff Holden recently announced updates to this project. Elevate is Uber’s flying car taxi service which was first announced back in September 2016. At the Web Summit tech conference in Lisbon, Holden announced that, Uber has signed a Space Act Agreement with NASA to help build traffic systems for its flying car project. The ride hailing service plans to start testing this project in 2020.
“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,” Jeff Holden, chief product officer at Uber, said in a statement on Wednesday. “Combining Uber’s software engineering expertise with NASA’s decades of airspace experience to tackle this is a crucial step forward for Uber Elevate.”
Uber which stated their plans to start an on-demand vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) network in Dallas and Dubai by 2020 has now added Los Angeles to this list.
Considering the fact that, in 2016 Los Angeles clocked an average of 104 hours of traffic jams making it one of the most congested cities in the world, L.A. was an easy choice to pick for this project. Even Elon Musk’s Boring Company chose L.A as its first location to dig traffic-bypassing tunnels.
In any case, numerous regulatory obstacles must be cleared before this can happen, including approval by the Federal Aviation Administration, which also needs to figure out how these flying cars can coexist with airplanes, helicopters, and drones in the sky. Uber is working with authorities in Dallas-Fort Worth and Dubai to bring flying taxis to these cities. The company has also signed partnerships with aircraft manufacturers and real estate companies to understand where the takeoff and landing sites of the flying cars could be.
Instead of engaging in building actual aircraft, Uber will build the technology that manages flying vehicles and navigates air traffic. They will double the staff to 24 over the next year and the company is in communication with the FAA and the European Aviation Safety Agency about its plans.