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The New Uber-NASA Flying Taxi Initiative
Regardless of how you feel about Uber as a company, there’s no denying the fact that they’re a “disruptor.” They’re a company that’s currently pushing innovation as far as automobile transportation and technology are concerned, and they appear to only want to ramp this up even further with their new partnership with NASA.
So far, Uber and NASA have signed two agreements with one another that show just how much of a disruptor Uber is attempting to be in terms of pushing technology into the future. If you haven’t heard of either of these two agreements, here’s an overview:
The First Space Act Agreement
The first Space Act Agreement between Uber and NASA was officially signed during November of 2017. While it was quite interesting in its potential, it was, admittedly, more of a generalized, macro agreement that was designed more or less to get the ball rolling on the initial preliminary stages of the new Uber-NASA partnership.
The point of the partnership is for both Uber and NASA to work together to develop unmanned traffic management for the eventual testing and subsequent launch of UberAir. Uber will help to develop this project through the use of their advanced software engineering capabilities, while NASA will contribute through their unparalleled airspace knowledge.
The Second Space Act Agreement
This past May, Uber and NASA signed a second Space Agreement (see: https://www.nasa.gov/press-release/nasa-uber-to-explore-safety-efficiency-of-future-urban-airspace/), which was announced during the second annual Uber Elevate Conference. In this agreement, Uber and NASA were much more specific in comparison to the first one, as Uber agreed to send NASA various data and plans on how it is approaching its UberAir flying taxi ambitions.
Furthermore, Uber is planning on providing continuous data to NASA as it engages in test runs in Dallas-Fort Worth. NASA, through analyzing the data with Uber’s engineers, will be able to provide information on how to address:
- Air Traffic;
- Air Space Management;
- Collision Mitigation.
Interestingly, while NASA has done some research on Urban Air Mobility, also known as UAM, this agreement with Uber is the first one that they have engaged in that solely deals with modeling and simulation.
So When Will We See Flying Taxis?
Of course, there’s no guarantee that we will actually have a workable on-demand flying taxi service, at least not anytime soon. But don’t tell Uber that. They already have partnerships with government officials in Dubai, Dallas-Fort Worth, and Los Angeles, as well as with various real estate organizations and aircraft companies. Their goal is to eventually have flying taxis up and running by 2028, which is when the Olympics take place in Los Angeles.
Safety concerns remain the biggest hurdle that Uber will have to overcome, which is why the NASA partnership is such an important step in the right direction. Having a partnership with NASA will help to better ensure that Uber takes all of the necessary safety steps and is also able to gain government approval at a faster rate than they otherwise would have.
Time will tell if Uber is successful or not, but it certainly won’t be for a lack of trying!