Uber unveils flying taxi prototype at Elevate summit

Jeannie Matthews
May 13, 2018

In a bid to show its seriousness about taking its "flying car" concept off the ground, ride hailing company Uber has signed a second space act agreement with NASA.

It's not the first pact between the companies. Uber has said that once a piloted version of the flying taxi is successfully off the ground, self-flying taxis will be the company's next goal.

Uber has been working with aviation regulators around the world to help plan and implement the project.

According to The Verge's coverage of the Elevate summit, Uber won't be building this exact model. The contest will select a third launch city, having already selected Los Angeles and Dallas in the United States.

The company plans to begin operating demonstrator flights by 2020, and said it intends the service to be ready for on-demand commercial operations by 2023.

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Uber expects the vehicle, which could carry up to four passengers, to fly at speeds up to 200 miles per hour at an elevation of 1,000 to 2,000 feet. This is achieved by stacking the propellers instead of placing them side by side, which Uber also claims makes for a quieter landing.

They included Pipistrel, the manufacturers of the first electric plane to be approved by United States regulators, who unveiled a new concept model - a futuristic take on Uber's model.

"NASA is excited to be partnering with Uber and others in the community to identify the key challenges facing the (flying car) market, and explore necessary research, development and testing requirements to address those challenges". For now, the project is starting with the NASA-Uber partnership aimed at assessing the impact of a low-altitude small aircraft flying above the congested traffic in Dallas-Fort Worth.

The US Army is also cooperating, co-funding the development of rotor technology research. Another example is Virginia's Aurora Flight Sciences, which has been developing electric propulsion technologies for VTOL aircraft for years, including a battery system for DARPA's X-Plane. ChargePoint, a leading and "most open electric vehicle (EV) charging network" revealed its concept design for the two megawatts, high-powered charging charger for eVTOLs, semi-trucks and other electric aircrafts.

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