Uber unveiled on Wednesday a partnership with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) to take a leap toward making its big plans to transport people through the air a reality – and it could be up and running sooner than you think.

In April, it was reported that the company teamed up with Dallas, Texas, and Dubai, United Arab Emirates, to run in a test a network, which is yet to be developed, of flying cars, but now it is joining Los Angeles to the list, with aims of getting flying cars started operating in the air by 2020.

Speaking at the Web Summit in Lisbon, Portugal happened this week, Uber disclosed new details about its plans for a network of on-demand vertical take-off and landing, or VTOL, aircraft. Jeff Holden, Chief Product Officer, revealed what the machines will look like, how they’ll work, and how much a ride will cost.


“Our target, and this is ambitious, but I think it’s very achievable, is to make this less expensive than driving your own car,” Jeff Holden said.

“Technology will allow L.A. residents to literally fly over the city’s historically bad traffic, giving them time back to use in far more productive ways,” said Jeff Holden. “At scale, we expect UberAir will perform tens of thousands of flights each day across the city.”

“We think, once we’ve stabilized after launch, we’ll be able to offer you an UberAir flight, for the cost of an UberX trip on the ground.”

California and Texas are the U.S. states with the largest number of cars.

A rooftop-hopping air taxi service called UberAIR is on the way, the company said.

Uber said it has signed a Space Act Agreement with NASA for the development of an “unmanned traffic management.”

“Uber’s participation in NASA’s UTM (Unmanned Traffic Management) Project will help the company’s goal of starting demonstration flights of UberAIR in select U.S. cities by 2020,” the ride-sharing company said in a statement.

Uber wants to “explore other collaboration opportunities with NASA” with a vision to launch “a new market of urban air mobility,” it added.

This is Uber’s first partnership with a U.S. federal government agency.

The first demonstration flights are expected in 2020, moving into commercial operations by 2023, with plenty of time for the 2028 Olympic Games in Los Angeles.


“NASA has the knowledge and the expertise to help make urban air mobility happen,” said Jaiwon Shin, NASA’s associate administrator for aeronautics, in a statement.

The price of flight across Los Angeles, with 200-mph speed and VTOL technology, would be “price competitive” with Uber’s car service, but much faster, Uber said. It gives the example of a trip from L.A International Airport and Staples Center taking just 30 minutes, rather than the usual hour-and-a-half trip.

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