Uber and NASA are partnering to make flying cars a reality. Few things are more heavily regulated than the sky, and with NASA on-board as a partner to help develop an air traffic control system to regulate their flying cars, Uber is one step closer to making UberAir (or Uber Elevate) a reality.
“UberAir will be performing far more flights over cities on a daily basis than has ever been done before.
“Doing this safely and efficiently is going to require a foundational change in airspace-management technologies.”
Jeff Holden, Uber Chief Product Officer
Flying cars sound fantastic, but are they feasible? The answer: anything is possible with enough money and influence. With a current valuation of $70 billion, Uber has more money than they know what to do with. Watch for yourself:
The company has raised over $10 billion since its creation in 2009, and with CEO-turned-provocateur Travis Kalanick exiled (though he retains a seat on the board of directors), Uber is shooting for a 2019 IPO under the stewardship of newly tapped CEO Dara Khosrowshahi.
NASA has a few “urban air mobility” initiatives in place already, but with market forces now in the cockpit, the regulatory framework will be fast-tracked because Uber wants to launch its aerial taxis starting in 2020. Given that industry tends to dictate policy, Uber’s well-paid lobbyists will probably be the ones actually writing the laws.
Further muddying the waters between the public and private sector is the fact that Uber hired longtime NASA engineer Mark Moore, arguably the world’s foremost expert on vertical takeoff and landing craft, as their director of engineering for aviation, back in February. The 30-year NASA vet is the linchpin in this whole operation; he even inspired Google co-founder Larry Page to start two flying car companies of his own.
The three cities where UberAir will take flight first are Los Angeles, Dallas, and Dubai. 2020. Mark you calendars.