Since the world we are currently living in is very much not the future we all dreamed of, NASA is teaming up with Uber to try to at least make a sliver of our flying-car dreams come true.
Uber chief product officer Jeff Holden announced today at the Web Summit conference in Lisbon that the ride-hailing company has made a deal with NASA to create software that will help manage flying taxi routes.
This is not the first time we’re hearing of Uber’s flying-car plans, or the first time it’s leaned on NASA expertise for help in attempting to realise this vision. In February, Uber hired a veteran NASA engineer Mark Moore to build flying cars. At the time, Moore predicted flying cars in the skies within one to three years. Two months later, Uber announced Uber Elevate, its ambitious plan to start testing flying taxis in Texas and Dubai by 2020.
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 international airports. The announcement shows that Uber is focusing on the infrastructure and safety concerns of filling our skies with giant people-filled drones. As far as the taxis themselves, Uber has partnered with five companies that are developing vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) vehicles. The company says it’s working with Sanstone Properties to build Uber skyports.
Of course, NASA’s support of Uber’s plan doesn’t mean there isn’t major turbulence ahead. The company still needs approval from the US Federal Aviation Administration and other regulatory agencies.
Uber released a video showing how it’s all supposed to work. The user opens the Uber app, but instead of choosing the options that have been around for years – UberPOOL, UberX – they go straight for UberAIR, because it’s almost dinner time and they’re still far away from their home city. They find the nearest Uber Skyport on the roof of a building, scan their the QR code on their phone to pass through a turnstyle, and climb aboard the flying Uber.
NASA and Uber did not respond to requests for comment on the deal. While Uber claims it’s planning to begin tests in about two years, we’ll remind you, as we’ve noted time and time again: The reality of flying cars always seems to be just two years away.