NASA And Uber Are Teaming Up To Kick Off The Urban Air Mobility Project

From flying taxis to package delivery drones, the project’s ultimate goal is to build the foundations of a small aircraft transport system destined for both passengers and cargo.

An artist’s conception of an urban air mobility environment, where air vehicles with a variety of missions and with or without pilots, are able to interact safely and efficiently.
Lillian Gipson / NASA

From flying taxis to package delivery drones, the project’s ultimate goal is to build the foundations of a small aircraft transport system destined for both passengers and cargo.

NASA and Uber Technologies have just signed a second space act agreement to strengthen their collaboration in the field of urban air mobility (UAM), the U.S. space agency announced yesterday. This is a big step forward from their previous agreement, which merely stated that the two intend to work together on the project, notes Sputnik News, citing the Verge.

The end goal of the UAM projects is to establish “a safe and efficient air transportation system where everything from small package delivery drones to passenger-carrying air taxis operate over populated areas, from small towns to the largest cities,” NASA explained in a previous news release detailing the initiative.

One of the main focuses of the UAM project is the development of passenger-carrying aircraft capable of vertical takeoff and landing, the U.S. space agency pointed out.

“Urban air mobility could revolutionize the way people and cargo move in our cities and fundamentally change our lifestyle much like smartphones have,” stated Jaiwon Shin, associate administrator for NASA’s Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate.

Although we may still have a little ways to go before we witness flying taxis hovering over the streets, the UAM initiative is gradually turning from visionary dreams into reality. For now, the project is starting with the NASA-Uber partnership aimed at assessing the impact of a low-altitude small aircraft flying above the congested traffic in Dallas-Fort Worth.

As per the agreement, Uber will provide NASA with details and data on its plans for the Elevate flying taxi service — which the company intends to test in 2020 and have ready for commercial launch in 2023, Houston Public Media notes.

NASA will then use the data from Uber to create a simulation for the small aircraft and test it at its Dallas Fort Worth (DFW) International Airport research facility.

The Uber data will be employed “to simulate a small passenger carrying aircraft as it flies through DFW airspace during peak scheduled air traffic and analyze if these operations would trigger traffic collision advisories,” company said in a statement.

Uber’s input is crucial to the UAM project, as all the necessary data regarding traffic scenarios, collision mitigation, and airspace management will be coming from the Elevate project.

According to Engadget, deepening its relationship with NASA was a smart move on Uber’s part as it might help expedite the company’s plans for its electric flying taxis.

As the Inquisitr previously reported, Uber and NASA are currently working together to figure out how the Elevate vehicles can operate safely while flying at low altitude. The company just released the new prototype for its flying taxis at the 2018 Elevate Summit, Reuters reports.

As in the case of the Elevate collaboration, NASA and Uber’s main concern for the UAM project is that the small aircraft is safely incorporated into busy air traffic. With this in mind, they will be working closely with the Federal Aviation Administration to make sure the aircraft won’t burden the national air traffic control system.