uberAIR: Fly to School, Fly to Work, Fly Home

May 15, 2018 Last Updated: May 16, 2018

Anyone who has lived in Los Angeles knows how treacherous it can be when stuck on the 405. While sitting in traffic after a long day of work, have you ever wondered: “I wish I could just fly home.” According to Uber, your wish may become true as soon as 2020 when testing for flying vehicles will begin in Los Angeles and Dallas.

No, this isn’t some Jetson’s fantasy. Uber announced at its 2nd annual Uber Elevate Summit they will seek to operate autonomous aircraft for public use by 2023 in what shall be called uberAIR.

Uber has already secured 2 notable government partnerships with NASA and the U.S. Army. According to nasa.gov, NASA announced that it had signed a second space act agreement with Uber Technologies, Inc. to further explore concepts and technologies related to urban air mobility (UAM), to ensure a safe and efficient system for future air transportation in populated areas.

An article by Reuters reveals that the U.S. Army will be working with Uber to advance research on quiet rotor technology. David Josephson, a Noise & Acoustic Consultant for Uber, spoke at length at the summit about Uber’s intent to minimize the amount of noise which would allow the autonomous aircraft to fly only hundreds of feet over a city without inconveniencing the citizens.

The flying machines will not be helicopters as some might imagine, but Electric Vertical Take-Off and Landing Vehicles or EVTOL. Mark Moore, Director of Engineering at Uber and a former NASA employee, stated in a video on Uber’s website that the technology that will allow for this is called Distributed Electrical Propulsion, or DEP. According to Moore, this is what will allow the vehicles to operate in an urban environment safely and quietly.

Meanwhile, many skeptics question the ambitious decision to go to the air by Uber, only months after the resignation of former-CEO Travis Kalanick in August 2017 amidst allegations of a corporate culture of sexual harassment. Also, the company posted a loss of more than $4 billion last year. CBS News probed current CEO Dara Khosrowshahi in an exclusive interview. “Ambition is what has created this company from the very beginning,” Khosrowshahi told CBS, “part of what made this company great is that we take big, bold bets.”

CBS said that Khosrowshahi told them that he wished to make Uber the “Amazon of transportation.”