Once only found in works of fiction, several companies around the world are today building flying cars. One of those firms is Uber, which, in a partnership with NASA, aims to bring its UberAIR flying taxi service to Los Angeles in 2020.
Earlier this year, it was revealed that the ride-hailing firm had hired 30-year NASA veteran Mark Moore as its director for aviation, where he would work on the company’s flying car initiative, dubbed Uber Elevate.
Uber’s head of product, Jeff Holden, just announced that LA would be joining Dallas-Fort Worth and Dubai on the list of cities that will be testing the air taxis. He added that the company had signed a Space Act Agreement with NASA that will see the creation of an air traffic control system to manage the electric vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) craft.
Uber is also partnering with Sandstone Properties to develop the take-off and landing hubs for the vehicles. It’s hoped that the service will be in “heavy use” by the time LA hosts the Olympics in 2028. Holden said the company envisions tens of thousands of flights taking place each day.
"We are bringing uberAIR to Los Angeles in no small part because Mayor Garcetti has embraced technology and innovation, making L.A. a hub for the future," Holden said in the release. "In this case, technology will allow L.A. 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."
The UberAIR promo video shows flights being booked using the Uber app, and finishes with the tagline “Closer than you think.” The company expects prices for the trips to be around the same as those completed using UberX.
Ehang, Lilium, AeroMobil, PAL-V, and many others are currently working on their own versions of flying cars, some of which have autonomous functions. It's possible that Uber's craft will also be autonomous.