NASA and Uber: flying cars are coming

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The government organization and the taxi service company promise the first real-life copies by the end of the decade.

An American company that deals with passenger transportation, or more specifically the brokerage of cars for those available for it, has an idea that has bounced off the ground – and we now understand that literally. He announced that he has entered into a partnership agreement with NASA and, along with the U.S. Space Agency, is embarking on the task of exploiting urban airspace. The Space Act Agreement will soon see the release of the first low-altitude passenger vehicles.

It’s not just a concept: the company works on safe flying taxis that pay off. And all this surprisingly soon. They said the first aircraft could appear before the end of the decade. The UberAir service, also just announced, is scheduled to launch by 2020. Interestingly, this would happen just one year after, as predicted by the sci-fi (first part) in the cult film status of Blade runner, starring Harrison Ford.

If we had previously thought that self-driving cars were futuristic – well, it was nothing compared to vehicles designed to carry passengers in a pair. The interest in the topic is quite high, not only Uber is trying to be the first to appear in the market. As we wrote about it, Airbus is also working on a similar timeline: they would hit the market in 2020 with the first models.

The new means of transport will be electrically powered. The tilting rotor drive allows for vertical take-offs and landings, which would initially be based on existing heliports. Designed for the transport of the two main ones, the Vahana is not (only) built on brand new technologies, but what engineers are still using is what is currently being used. For example, batteries that can bridge a distance of nearly 100 kilometers at top speeds of up to 224 km / h. Naturally, with the development of charge storage technology, the range of Vahana may also increase.

Returning to Uber’s announcement, Jeff Holden also unveiled the first video in Lisbon of how the company envisions the operation of short-haul air passenger transport. The new service would serve as an alternative to helicopters, which Uber says are too loud, dangerous, expensive and far from environmentally friendly to widespread ground taxiing in urban environments.

In contrast, the U.S. company’s aircraft operate free of emissions, Holden outlined the concept. In addition, they will be built redundantly, i.e. they will not be able to stand on the ground in the event of a component failure, but will be able to continue their journey. When it launches, UberAir will offer a similar price level as Uber X, but the company expects that as the service evolves, it will be able to provide a cheaper alternative to buying and maintaining its own car overall.

Los Angeles will be the second test city, as the service was first announced in Dallas. And outside of America, Dubai is the first place where air taxis can take place. Here, the existing aircraft of the Chinese company Ehang is being tested by local authorities; of course, also self-driving vehicles can reach distances of up to 300 meters and distances of 100 kilometers. The electric-powered Ehang 184 took off for the first time in the summer, and although it is still a long way from being able to travel on a scheduled basis to dozens, if not passengers, it has already been able to deliver encouraging results.

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