back to article Uber and NASA pen flying taxi probe pact

NASA and Uber have signed an agreement to ensure safe development of flying taxis in urban environments. At Uber’s second annual Elevate conference in Los Angeles on Tuesday, the company also revealed it plans to take Uber Air to the skies by 2028. Flying car illustration. Pic by Shutterstock NASA tells The Reg: For crying …

  1. Mark 85 Silver badge

    Pilotless Helicopters?

    I daresay that this is stuff of science fiction. With Uber involved, maybe it ought to stay in that realm. Seriously, the idea of a helicopter without a human pilot just seems like trouble. Especially airports and then dealing with the updrafts from tall buildings, etc. in a city. Having piloted some many years ago and understanding their unique flight envelopes the idea of full auto pilotless terrifies me.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Move fast and break things...

      It's bad enough looking out for automated Uber things in two dimensions; I'd like to keep well-fed pigeons as the greatest airborne peril

      1. Stork Silver badge

        Re: Move fast and break things...

        Be scared, be very scared

  2. JimC

    Sounds more like investor bait

    Than serious technology with potential to be implemented in the medium term to me.

    1. Hans Neeson-Bumpsadese

      Re: Sounds more like investor bait

      Agreed. Consider how much time and effort the likes of Moller (sp?) put into flying car development without really getting anywhere, and that was (so far as I am aware) just about developing a product, never mind solving the sort of safety problems mentioned in this article.

  3. SkippyBing


    I'm not totally sure what the point of flying taxis is, I'm guessing to avoid ground congestion. But even if they're emissions free at point of use, you're having to generate a lot more electricity to lift something off the ground than roll it across it. Which doesn't seem to come up in any of the glossy presentations...

    1. Jimmy2Cows Silver badge

      Re: Power?

      Obviously powered by unicon farts gliding on a cushion of rainbows. Physics is a pesky implementation detail to be worked out later, and must never be permitted to interfere with hype generation.

    2. macjules Silver badge

      Re: Power?

      "We are saying 2028 as we are hoping/pretty sure that Elon Musk will have invented autonomous flying taxis by then. Also, if you really think that we can create a V/STOL electric flying taxi then you are more stupid than the sort of customer who thinks that when we quote £50-£78 as a fare that they will only get charged £50"

      1. Francis Boyle

        Elon's smarter than that and he came up with hyperloop.

        Seriously the way to get people to and from airports quickly is a fast train (maglev and tunnels optional).

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Elon's smarter than that and he came up with hyperloop.

          Seriously the way to get people to and from airports quickly is a fast train

          No. That only gets people quickly between station and airport. In terms of the speed of the fastest leg, rail is excellent. As an efficient means of moving people between the points they REALLY want to go to, rail tends to be rather lacking unless you happen to live near a station that is well connected to your destination.

  4. thegroucho


    I mean, not that their software already killed a person on the ground.

    Imagine miscalculating a building full of people as a non-obstacle and ramming something flammable into it.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Noise and real estate value issues

    I can only imagine the issues this would create with increased noise pollution in areas immediately above cities where previously only the occasional helicopter creates a nuisance. Even if electric powered motors are quieter it would still be an annoyance to those living nearby, especially those who live or work next to a sky port. If you bought a condo in LA (where they are planning to begin using these air machines) prior to Uber's launch of this service and come to later find out that your bedroom window directly overlooks a sky port where 100+ or 1000+ uber air machines are landing and taking off all day and all NIGHT long...can you say real estate value plummet! Who would want to live next to a sky port, especially if it is on the roof top next door to you where you get little to no benefit in being able to easily access it? This raises concerns for existing real estate values in residential areas / residential buildings while questioning the preservation of peace and quiet. Some might think this would help residential land values but if I were a buyer and saw that a property I am interested in buying is constantly invaded by noise from an uber sky port, I would pass and look elsewhere.

  6. Southernboy

    So how dangerous are helicopters?

    So these will allegedly be safer than helicopters?

    Guess what, helicopters don't fall out of the sky just because a single component fails. (Or at least it's very very rare).

    And the wonderful idea that auto control is better than pesky pilots... no time to get into that discussion.

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