Uber working with NASA to make flying taxis a reality

The ride-hailing company wants to bring its business model to the skies by 2023, an Uber executive said Wednesday.

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Uber is working with NASA to develop an air traffic management system that could facilitate the launch of flying taxis, the company said today.

For a company that has notoriously butted heads with regulatory agencies, Uber's cooperation with NASA shows its commitment to making its flying car project, called Uber Elevate, a reality.

At the Web Summit in Lisbon and in follow-up interviews, Chief Product Officer Jeff Holden outlined Uber's plans to work with NASA and other industry partners to advance Uber Elevate and a new service called UberAir. UberAir would effectively bring Uber's existing ride-hailing model to the sky.

Combining Uber's technological development with NASA's expertise in air space and simulation environments will "make this happen as fast as possible," Holden told Bloomberg.

Uber is planning to have UberAir demonstrations by 2020 and to launch the service by 2023.

In a statement given to ZDNet, NASA said that Uber is one of many industry partners working with the space agency under the Space Act Agreement to build an air traffic management system for Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS). Specifically, Uber is joining the process during phase 4 -- one of the later stages of the process -- with work slated to begin in that phase in March 2019.

Earlier this year, Uber hired Mark Moore, 30-year veteran of NASA, to serve as its director of engineering for aviation.

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