Sci-tech

Uber, US Army partner up for silent electric aircraft tech

Uber, US Army partner up for silent electric aircraft tech

Uber is partnering with NASA to develop the air taxi service as a way to way to cut down commute times and reduce pollution.

At this year's summit, Uber unveiled yet another flying vehicle concept, this one being a four-passenger vertical-takeoff-and-landing (VTOL) fixed-wing aircraft, with vertical rotors fixed to those wings, giving an overall design that's not dissimilar to the quadcopters that have become popular in recent years.

"One of the key tenets of this technology is for us to have four riders in each vehicle so that, essentially, the cost per ride goes down", he said.

At its research facility at the Dallas Fort Worth (DFW) International Airport, NASA will use the data supplied by Uber to simulate a small passenger-carrying aircraft as it flies through DFW airspace during peak scheduled air traffic. Basically, it's a circlejerk for people to talk in highly generic terms about flying cars that always seem to be "just three years away", whether it's 2001 or 2018.

Uber's chief product officer, Jeff Holden, said the program is meant to be "community friendly".

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Pipistrel teased a picture of an eVTOL aircraft concept at the Uber Elevate conference in Los Angeles on 8 May.

Uber has set a goal of testing these electric flying vehicles by 2020 and a commercial launch in 2023. Initial flights will have human pilots, but Uber Elevate's grand plan envisions pilotless light planes winging passengers from pickup to destination. In the wake of that fatality, Uber suspended its self-driving tests nationwide. Batteries with sufficient energy density to work don't exist yet, and Uber asking for them to exist won't help. Last year, San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera's office released a finding estimating that 45,000 Uber and Lyft drivers are operating in the city, leading to gridlock caused by the extra vehicles. Khosrowshahi was brought over from his previous job as the CEO of Bellevue, Wash. -based Expedia to take Kalanick's place.

By using two co-axial rotors spinning in the same direction, this new propeller tech promises to be quieter and more efficient.

"I will tell you that the company took it upon itself to change", Khosrowshahi said.

He said it's "game over" if the company can't provide a workplace where female employees feel safe. "It's "game over" if we don't", Khosrowshahi replied.


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