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Uber to work with NASA on flying taxi management systems

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Uber plans to launch UberAIR in LA in 2020.                  Uber

Rides will be ordered through an app, similar to the taxi sharing service now in operation.

Speaking at Web Summit in Portugal, Uber's chief product officer Jeff Holden said: "We are bringing uberAIR to Los Angeles in no small part because Mayor Garcetti has embraced technology and innovation, making LA a hub for the future". By 2023, Uber believes a paid, intra-city flying taxi could be up and running.

UberAir differs from UberChopper, a helicopter service the company has in the past offered during events such as the Coachella music festival, or during summertime for trips between New York City and the Hamptons. UberAir-the official name of this endeavor-will be tested in Dallas-Fort Worth, Dubai, and Los Angeles.

Traveling at a hurtling 322 kph, an 80-minute commute in rush hour commute will be reduced to four in their soaring four-passenger vehicles, Uber says.

Ride-share giant Uber said Wednesday it's helping to plan an air traffic control network for self-flying vehicles, and that the system could be operational in just three years. Then, there's the lack of infrastructure fundamental for their support.

Los Angeles has also been added to a list of cities where it is aiming to demonstrate the technology in action by 2020 and even more ambitiously, it wants to make it commercially viable by the time the city hosts the Olympics in 2028.

Such hurdles include the need for approval from the US Federal Aviation Administration for operation outside normal aircraft corridors, which will be hard to obtain due to stringent safety and regulation requirements.

The partnership, announced today at WebSummit in Lisbon, is not beyond Uber's personal ambitions either. "I think 2020 is realistic for a vehicle that is not replacing an airplane but replacing a auto", Richard Pat Anderson, director of the Flight Research Center at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, told Wired at the time. They signed deals with five different companies to create vehicles that meet their requirements and are working with real estate developers to build landing pads on roofs. This is NASA's push to figure out how unmanned aerial systems (UAS), such as drones that fly at a low altitude, can operate safely.

Earlier this year, Uber hired NASA veterans Mark Moore and Tom Prevot to run, respectively, its aircraft vehicle design team and its air traffic management software program, Reuters reported.

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