Uber Partners with NASA to Introduce Flying Taxis by 2020

Uber’s Flying Taxis to be Operational in Time for the LA Olympics.

It looks increasingly likely that Uber will hire Bruce Willis, now that the ride-hailing service has signed an agreement with NASA to introduce flying taxis. This is bad news for Gary Oldman. Very bad news.

Uber will collaborate with various car manufacturers to build the four-person ‘vertical take-off and landing’ vehicles, and NASA have agreed to develop software that will ensure safety through effective management of the “flying taxi” routes. The vehicles are projected to undergo test-runs in Los Angeles by 2020.

Jeff Holden, Uber’s chief product officer said: “Doing this safely and efficiently is going to require a foundational change in airspace management technologies. Combining Uber’s software engineering expertise with Nasa’s decades of airspace experience to tackle this is a crucial step forward.”

Uber has released a video that gives us some idea of what it will be like to use the taxi. It shows a woman using the ride-hailing app to arrange an UberAIR flight home. She takes a lift to the roof of a tall building, boards the vehicle, and flies at speeds of up to 200mph to her destination. What the video didn’t reveal is that the woman is in fact, the Fifth Element, and the driver? You guessed it. Bruce. Friggin. Willis.

The ride-hailing company aims to have flying taxis operational for the 2028 Summer Olympics, which will be hosted in LA. If the vehicles are effectively integrated, the city will benefit from the electric journeys and from improved congestion. An 80 minutes car journey in rush-hour traffic could translate to a four minute journey via the skies.

But experts remain skeptical, and understandably so. Analysts at Gartner argue that such vehicles are ‘likely to be more disruptive than transformational. High costs, safety concerns and regulatory burdens are likely to limit the use of this overhyped technology.’

Even Elon Musk said ‘it’s difficult to imagine the flying car becoming a scalable solution…’ Adding that ‘Your anxiety level will not decrease as a result of things that weigh a lot buzzing around your head.’ This is coming from a man who intends to colonise Mars, for God’s sake (a figure of speech, of course).

Marc Ward

Image by Uber