In 2016, Uber Technologies Inc brought in a net revenue of $6.5 billion, doubling its bookings from 2015 and making it one of the fastest growing apps in the world. Now Uber is looking to take its technology to the next level. While flying cars have been popular in science fiction movies, they have yet to make it to the mass market. A Nasa spokesman has confirmed they are helping Uber’s technology team to make flying cars a reality, with the first testing expected in 2020.
Why Flying Taxis?
Cutting edge driving technology is generally focused on building viable self driving cars. Google seems to be leading the race, with their current project Waymo already able to safely navigate obstacles such as cyclists and other vehicles. While Uber started testing driverless cars in 2016, it is now going a step ahead of the competition.
Flying cars are more than just a gimmick. They could help overcome the growing problem of traffic. This is especially true in Los Angeles, where the first flying taxis are set to be tested. LA drivers are currently spending an extra 170 hours a year on the road if they drive during peak traffic.
Uber Chief Product Officer Jeff Holden said “technology will allow LA residents to literally fly over the city’s historically bad traffic”, suggesting that this is an opportunity to reduce commuting times. When flying, cars can take the straightest and quickest route, while also traveling at a faster speed.
What Technology Will Be Used?
Uber and Nasa have yet to reveal any details on the technology involved. Typically, flying cars have been small, light aircrafts. However, planes are incredibly complicated and require a special license. Uber will have to create something far simpler, that can be driven like a car. It is likely that it will involve several electrical rotors and wings that tilt up and down to provide lift.
Bill Busbice Jr, Co-founder of HWY Pro, has praised Uber’s new CEO for “his outstanding reputation and leadership capabilities”. As a highly successful and ambitious entrepreneur, he has a good chance of making flying cars a reality. The challenge will be in proving the safety of his new vehicles in order to receive adequate funding.
It feels as if we have been on the edge of having mass produced flying cars for some time, but so far people are still confined to the ground. This new partnership between Uber and Nasa represents an important step forward. Whether the technology will be available by 2020, however, is less than certain.