Troubled taxi app Uber has teamed up with American space agency NASA to make "flying taxis" a reality, the two organisations announced on Wednesday.
Working with NASA, Uber claims that it will develop software capable of managing so-called flying taxi routes, just as it helped to pioneer taxi hailing and car-sharing services.
Uber said that the project will cover low-altitude airspace as opposed to outer space, and it's been issued with a formal services contract by NASA.
The space agency has been using this process to work with third-parties to develop rockets and other aerospace technologies since the 1950s.
The idea is that they will develop a "safe" way to manage this futuristic transport system. By 2020, Uber claims that its plans include the launch of an on-demand, vertical take-off and landing network in Dallas, Dubai and Los Angeles.
This won't be an easy task, especially in such a short space of time, and the company will likely face a plethora of regulatory and approval processes before its ambitious plans can go ahead.
It will also have to sign some form of agreement with the Federal Aviation Administration, which controls American aerospace. Uber will need to come up with an appropriate way for its flying cars to co-exist with existing helicopter, plane and drone traffic.
Although this is a somewhat ambitious undertaking, Uber has said it plans to develop the software needed to manage flying cars, rather than building its own aircraft.
The company plans to double its staff to accommodate these plans, so more partners could enter the scene in the future. It's currently in discussions with the FAA and European Aviation Safety Agency, it says.
"This collaboration makes a ton of sense in order to bring this to market as fast as possible," Uber's chief product officer Jeff Holden told Bloomberg.
Uber said it wants to run a fleet of "electronic jet-powered vehicles" that combine the functionalities of helicopters, drones and airplanes. They'll be able to take off and land vertically thanks to several small rotors.
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