Uber Teams Up With US Army, NASA To Launch 'Flying Taxis'

Authored by Sasha Lekach via Mashable.com,

Uber is flying high above its street-level ride-hailing business.

At its annual Elevate summit in Los Angeles Tuesday, the rideshare company detailed its aviation goals to launch electric flying taxis within the next five years.

The service, dubbed UberAir, aims to move rides to the sky, so Uber is partnering with the U.S. Army's research arm and NASA to make it happen.

Uber's partnership with the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command (RDECOM), within the Army Research Lab, is focused on researching the tech needed to propel the company's electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft.

UberAir wants to fly its vehicles up to 2,000 feet at 150 mph for short-haul flights, going as far as 60 miles on a battery charge. The service plans to fly demos of its four-passenger seat planes in Los Angeles and the Dallas area by 2020, ready for commercial use by 2023. 

Although the air taxi will initially be piloted, flights will eventually become autonomous.


As part of this $1-million partnership, spilt 50-50, the U.S. Army research team is working with Uber to develop quieter propeller technology. In a release, the Army said, "this is a concept for having two rotor systems placed on top of each other and rotating in the same direction." Apparently this has never been deployed in a flying craft before. 

So Uber won't necessarily be outfitting the military with aircraft, but this joint research could help the Army one day fly a fleet of unmanned air vehicles, or supply the tech for more efficient military aircraft down the track.


On the NASA side, Uber is expanding an agreement with the space agency. The new arrangement means Uber will share information with NASA about creating an "urban aviation rideshare network." NASA wants to use this data for computer modeling and simulation in order to study how small aircraft like UberAir manage in crowded environments.

Previously, Uber had an agreement with NASA to research pilotless vehicle traffic management at low altitudes. 

Uber is moving way beyond cities, roads, and public transit, getting deep into aeronautical institutions, and possibly into defense contracting. But for now, its nascent aviation team is trying to establish itself as legit. Partnerships with the likes of NASA and U.S. Army sure help on that front.


Parrotile any_mouse Tue, 05/15/2018 - 01:14 Permalink

The next "revelation" will be Uber's plan to bypass unmanned short haul air transport completely, and get firmly in bed with NASA (and Tesla!) to develop suborbital technology - railgun driven "personalised space travel" for those with deep enough pockets.


Maybe Jules Verne was really on to something with his most literal "Moonshot" idea

In reply to by any_mouse

E.F. Mutton Mon, 05/14/2018 - 18:49 Permalink

"... the U.S. Army research team is working with Uber to develop quieter propeller technology "

So...what is the gummint secretly funding Uber for?

Because we know Uber is all about propeller technology.

grunk Mon, 05/14/2018 - 18:55 Permalink

So I can burn to death in a midair fire, and/or crash into the ground at a couple of hundred miles an hour?


Quite the Tesla experience.

grunk Mon, 05/14/2018 - 18:55 Permalink

So I can burn to death in a midair fire, and/or crash into the ground at a couple of hundred miles an hour?


Quite the Tesla experience.

Labworks Mon, 05/14/2018 - 18:56 Permalink

I don't have to take millions of tests to get a job at the CIA or NSA. I'm a dumb idiot sitting in my apartment and I can figure this out for myself....it's all part of the grand scheme..it's all part of the grand plan...they want you under control, they want you to live in the cities..hey..look at this hyperloop, hey look at these self driving cars that only we can control.


It's right there folks

Endgame Napoleon Labworks Mon, 05/14/2018 - 19:30 Permalink

H**, forget the hours of testing and the hoop jumping required to get the $12-per-hour government jobs, and forget the multitude of state-required, biannual tests to maintain licenses in a field that pays beteeen $10 and $12 per hour in the private sector. Forget the degree that required 4 years of testing preceding all of that subsequent testing hoopla in a labor landscape devoid of quality jobs. Every $8-per-hour retail job requires everyone—even people who have owned stores and worked in both upscale and downscale retail environments for years—to take the same 1-hour personality test that they have taken (and passed with flying colors) to get every other two-bit, low-paying retail job in any business of any size for decades. Funny thing, they pay managers 10 to 20 times more than everyone else, and though hiring is a main component of the management jobs, they have no ability to make judgements independent of these ridiculous, mouse-on-treadmill exercises. Some of the call centers even play good cop / bad cop games with adults in interviews. It is ridiculous, prompting people to warn you before you interview at those places. Anyone can pass those tests. That does not mean they will be attentive to customers on a daily basis, nor does it mean they will have the finesse and / or the doggedness to sell to their quotas. Nor does it mean they will come to work and stay at work all day. Although in back-watching gangs of absentee moms in the many voted-best-for-moms office jobs, crony absenteeism is an advantage. Everything in today’s job market is more game than substance, possibly because automation is slowly overriding the need for human labor, with the absenteeism-gang office jobs being the most hyped and scam-like. That might be because automation is making office workers obsolete the quickest.

In reply to by Labworks

HominyTwin Mon, 05/14/2018 - 19:03 Permalink

Uber is pulling an "Elon Musk" move. When your company isn't profitable, and isn't going to be profitable, to keep the scam going, announce some cutting-edge research project that is going to be a reality in 5 years. It's the 5 year plan from Soviet-times, resurrected to help Silicon Valley con men keep gravy flowing. Fucking bullshit, LOL.

Endgame Napoleon HominyTwin Mon, 05/14/2018 - 19:40 Permalink

Here is how they will sell it: Tired of those grinding, 2-hour commutes, adding 4 hours total to your workday? Want to get out of the house, but don’t want to fight a 7-mile-long traffic snarl just to grab an organic bagel? We have the solution: Fly above the fray with a friendly robot in control. No need to worry about whether this robot is “depressed” enough to intentionally sabotage your traffic-avoidance system. No need to dread hearing the words Allah Akbar in midair. No need to lock up the cockpit, protecting the plane from trusty Al, your 100% reliable pilot. 

Every Flight

On Time

Every Time  

In reply to by HominyTwin

Oh regional Indian HominyTwin Tue, 05/15/2018 - 00:18 Permalink

Anyone with three or more brain cells, wondering about this rash of malinvestment everywhere, just needs to read the Report from Iron Mountain.

It's all in there.

Distract, deflect, sell impossible dreams....

Just waiting till the sheep cannot tell simulation apart from reality.

That, is when, VR goggles strapped tight, the doors will clang shut on the holding pens.

In reply to by HominyTwin

Jus7tme Mon, 05/14/2018 - 19:05 Permalink

It's a helicopter. It is really inefficient. The energy usage will be massive, just like any other helicopter. Making it electric makes zero difference to the basic efficiency of a helicopter, which is atrociously bad.

cbxer55 Jus7tme Mon, 05/14/2018 - 20:03 Permalink

But it's not just a heliocopter. Look closely at the pics. The horizontal propellors can be stowed inline with the vehicle, and it has wings and a propellor for forward motive force. Looks to me like the four horizontal props lift it off the ground. Then the vertical propellor starts it moving forward. Once sufficient forward speed is attained, the horizontal props can be stowed in the streamlined position, and it flies like an aerioplane. 

That's my take on it anyways. 

In reply to by Jus7tme