Jeff Holden, Uber’s Chief Product Officer, announced at Web Summit in Lisbon that the ride-hailing giant will work with NASA to develop autonomous flying taxis, with the aim of testing the service in Los Angeles in 2020.
Uber signed a contract with the aerospace institution that will see them working together to develop the software for the autonomous drone-like transportation service.
“Doing this safely and efficiently is going to require a foundational change in airspace management technologies,” Holden said. “Combining Uber’s software engineering expertise with NASA’s decades of airspace experience to tackle this is a crucial step forward.”
A key area that Uber hopes to target with the technology is the East coast region of California, largely due to the commute between San Francisco and San Jose.
“Uber is close to the commute pain that citizens in cities around the world feel,” the company said. “We view helping to solve this problem as core to our mission and our commitment to our rider base. Just as skyscrapers allowed cities to use limited land more efficiently, urban air transportation will use three-dimensional airspace to alleviate transportation congestion on the ground.”
Uber has eyed airspace travel for some time, having previously partnered with a number of private aerospace companies.
However, it seems that this new announcement has made the possibility of flying taxis more real than ever before, with Uber’s NASA partnership signalling that the technology may be likely be given federal approval.