NASA signs agreement with Uber to determine urban taxi drone

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The company also released revamped sketches updating images revealed at the first Elevate conference in Dallas previous year that show a new technological development: a pair of stacked co-rotating propellers, which Uber says will make the ride quieter.

Uber plans the first demonstration flights for Los Angeles in 2020 and commercialization of the flying taxis in 2023, saying these could be ordered on demand just like a ridesharing vehicle.

NASA and Uber have signed an agreement to explore putting flying taxis in the skies over U.S. cities.

The project gained a bit more altitude at Tuesday's kickoff of the two-day Uber Elevate conference in Los Angeles to discuss urban air transportation.

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According to a new report from CNBC, Uber has hired a roster of senior NASA and aerospace employees in the a year ago to deliver chief executive Dara Khosrowshahi's plans for swarms of robot-driven airborne vehicles that transport passengers across cities. The vehicles resemble helicopters, but are quieter with four prop rotors on each wing and electric propulsion to cut down on emissions.

"These concepts are neutral ground that Uber has put together, so we can share insights with all our partners."
Passengers will sit in the middle of the aircraft and up front, and a pilot will carry the passengers (up to a maximum of four) to their destinations. "Finally, point of entry into the eCRMs is limited to one side, simplifying ground crew operations and reducing confusion for riders when they approach their eVTOL vehicle".

Uber says eVTOL craft will be capable of cruising at up to 200 mphr at heights between 1,000 to 2,000 feet.

"NASA is excited to be partnering with Uber and others in the community to identify the key challenges facing the UAM market", said Jaiwon Shin, associate administrator for NASA's Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate. In DFW, the company is working with Hillwood Properties to build vertical skyports and also has called upon Fort Worth-based Bell to develop the vehicles.

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