Uber says its fleet of flying taxis is just around the corner

Posted May 09, 2018

The agreement and work statement were announced at the second Uber Elevate Summit in Los Angeles, California. While Uber isn't building these vertical takeoff and landing vehicles itself, the company is striking partnerships with manufacturers, battery companies and others that, together with Uber's ride-hailing network, could make it possible to summon a flying taxi via the Uber app.

The overhead rendering of the concept aircraft showed a blended wing body without any visible rotors for vertical lift, a design that is much different from the lift-and-cruise concepts put forward by competitors presenting at the Uber Elevate conference, such as Embraer.

Uber is partnering with NASA to develop a traffic control system it will use to coordinate the service.

Imagine summoning a flying taxi instead of a vehicle using Uber's smartphone app. Uber is hoping to make that happen in the near future and announced today a research partnership with NASA to study manned urban taxis. After rising in the air, two of the rotors flip to a horizontal position to push the winged hybrid craft forward at speeds of up to 200 miles per hour.

Uber's flying auto is set to be revealed today at its Elevate conference in Los Angeles, but CBS News viewers were treated with a sneak peek at the innovative vehicle. By then, Uber hopes to ramp up to "automotive-scale manufacturing" of air taxis, said Jeff Holden, Uber's chief product officer.

The prototypes look more like drones than helicopters reports CNBC.

The issue of self-driving vehicles is a sensitive one for Uber, due to an accident involving an Uber autonomous auto that killed a pedestrian in Arizona in March.

In a press release, Uber said the number and placement of rotors will make eVTOL vehicles safer and quieter than traditional helicopters.

Khosrowshahi took over a company in crisis when he replaced Travis Kalanick as CEO in August.

Since the accident, Uber has stopped testing autonomous vehicles on public roads, but Khosrowshahi told CBS This Morning that the company will eventually resume testing after he has finished evaluating the program.

He said "what happened in the past was deeply unpleasant and wrong, but the company from a bottoms-up standpoint started changing, and I think it continues apace". It faces competition from other companies that are working to launch flying taxi services like Airbus, Boeing, and Kitty Hawk, which is backed by Google founder Larry Page.