Uber announces partnership with NASA on flying auto service

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The glitzy future of flying cars is nearly here-assuming NASA and Uber can figure out how to work together and develop the technology in the next two years. At the Web Summit, a technology conference, in Lisbon this week, Uber announced that they signed a Space Act Agreement with the governmental agency to determine how unmanned aerial systems can fly at low levels safely, reports CNBC. 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. "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.

"On-demand aviation", the company said in an October 2016 white paper on its flying-taxi service, "has the potential to radically improve urban mobility, giving people back time lost in their daily commutes".

Today, Holden said Uber is still looking to start testing flying taxi services by 2020, first Los Angeles, and then in the Dallas-Fort Worth area-both of which are home to global airports.

The company envisions a network of small, electric aircraft in numerous cities worldwide to enable four-person flights.

Under this NASA deal, Uber will develop the software traffic management system that would be used to manage these flying vehicles.

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A special effects video the company released on Twitter showed how the technology would work, portraying a woman hailing an uberAIR and then riding an elevator to the roof of a tall building to catch her flying ride.

Los Angeles will be the company's third test city.

Uber is expected to face many challenges in developing and spreading the self-flying vehicle, including approval from the U.S. "LA is the flawless testing ground for this new technology and I look forward to seeing it grow in the coming years". After all, we've been promised flying cars for years.

Uber claims a trip from LAX to the Staples Centre - a 41 minute journey by road - will take under 30 minutes in one of its flying cabs.

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