Ride-Sharing in the Sky: Uber and NASA See Flying Cars As Reality by 2020

Uber's Chief Product Officer Jeff Holden announced Wednesday that Uber has partnered with NASA to devise plans for managing urban airspace and make flying vehicles as safe and workable as possible. (Image credit: Frank Busch/Flickr)

At the Web Summit in Lisbon, Portugal Wednesday, Uber's Chief Product Office Jeff Holden announced a partnership with NASA to help make flying vehicles a reality as early as 2020.

The two have signed a Space Act Agreement, which will see Uber work together with federal agency and its other partners to make flying vehicles at a low altitude safe and viable.

A few takeaways from the announcement:

  • UberAIR will be designed to run in large cities where ground traffic is most congested, significantly scaling down commute times.
  • Aerial vehicles will serve as a less dangerous, more eco-friendly alternative to helicopters.
  • If any one part malfunctions, Uber's vehicles will still be able to fly.
  • The company hopes to make flying UberAIR cheaper than driving your own car.

The first city scheduled to take to the skies is Dallas, with subsequent launch planned in LA. According to USA Today, Uber has already lined up locations for stationing terminals.

Uber also announced that it signed an agreement with Los Angeles' Sandstone Properties to develop its Skyport roof-top take-off and landing terminals. Sandstone has 20 buildings around the core of L.A. that UberAir flights could use to skip around the city.

And a deal with NASA looks to ensure the safety of increasing the number of low-flying craft over the cities.

To keep tabs on its sky-bound traffic, Uber said it will work with NASA on a range of Unmanned Traffic Management and Unmanned Aerial Systems projects that in theory will prevent catastrophic mid-air accidents from happening in the skies above dense urban zones.