Uber shows latest flying taxi concept, outlines business plan

Pat Wise
May 9, 2018

This artist's conception shows the reference model for Uber's future air taxis. The vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) vehicle, which looks like an oversized commercial drone, uses several different rotors to create both upward and forward thrust.

On Tuesday, May 8, Uber released more details about UberAir at Elevate Summit 2018 in Los Angeles, the second annual convergence of "the foremost on-demand aviation leaders in industry, government, and academia".

Dallas-Fort Worth and Los Angeles are the first USA metropolitan areas scheduled to have the vehicles lifting off from area skyports, perhaps as early as 2020.

Flying cars have attracted the attention of other technology companies. The company plans to use cloud-based trip management tools to maximize the passenger load for each flight and make Uber's cost formula work.

The taxis will be manned by a pilot first with the goal for the planes to eventually fly autonomously.

"The new space act agreement broadening Uber's partnership with NASA is exciting, because it allows us to combine Uber's massive-scale engineering expertise with NASA's decades of subject matter experience across multiple domains that are key to enabling urban air mobility, starting with airspace systems", said Jeff Holden, Uber's chief product officer.

In the CBS interview, Khosrowshahi said Uber was conducting a "top-to-bottom audit of our procedures, training, software, hardware, what our practices are".

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Uber officials have said the company wants to have flying rideshare vehicles in some cities within the next two years.

He also addressed Uber's sexual-harassment issues, which led to last year's ouster of Uber's previous CEO, Travis Kalanick.

When CBS News' Bianna Golodryga asked Khosrowshahi when he expected to turn around Uber's corporate culture, he replied: "If it's not changed right now, then I failed".

"Ambition is what has created this company from the very beginning", Khosrowshahi said.

He said it's "game over" if the company can't provide a workplace where female employees feel safe.

Building on this rotor partnership, Uber also announced a partnership with electric propulsion company Launchpoint Technologies on modeling, design and fabrication of novel electric motors built specifically for the stacked co-rotating rotors of the eVTOL concepts.

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