Uber is about to take off.
The ride-sharing company made a number of announcements at the Web Summit conference in Lisbon, including an agreement with NASA to lay down the groundwork for a self-driving aerial vehicle taxi service. Uber also shared a video that shows how the experience might look from the perspective of a user.
Uber first laid out its plans for an autonomous, flying taxi service, called Uber Elevate, in Oct. 2016, but now the company’s product head Jeff Holden shared some additional details about the service, which will be called uberAIR.
Uber plans to use a special type of aircraft with Distributed Electric Propulsion (DEP). It uses several small rotors powered by electric motors, which enable them to vertically take off and land. Uber claims the vehicles will be quiet and 100% electric.
Uber will not build these aircrafts itself; instead, the company partnered with several manufacturers, including Aurora Flight Sciences, Pipistrel Aircraft, Embraer, Mooney and Bell Helicopter. The company has also partnered with ChargePoint which will develop a charger for the vehicles.
These aircrafts — no point in calling them flying cars as they aren’t cars in any sense of the word — will fly between “Skyport” hubs in cities where the service will operate. From what’s shown in the video, these hubs could be located on building rooftops.
The company also announced it would launch uberAIR in Los Angeles, with first demonstration flights in 2020. Uber previously said the service would launch in Dallas as well as Dubai.
The video makes the entire process look like booking a regular Uber ride, with the exception of having to climb to that roof in an elevator and being greeted by a host before you enter the aircraft. However, it’s still unclear whether the company will satisfy the necessary regulations for this type of service any time soon.
Uber’s not the only company that’s looking to conquer the skies. We’ve seen concepts from Lilium Aviation, Kitty Hawk as well as Airbus show their version of a flying car this year. With its myriad partnerships in place, it looks like Uber’s most likely to actually bring something to market in the near future.