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Uber Announces Agreements with NASA and Plans for Los Angeles
  • 08 Nov 2017 04:14 PM
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Uber Announces Agreements with NASA and Plans for Los Angeles

Uber Elevate - eVTOL Common Reference Model

Uber Signs Space Act Agreement With NASA On Traffic Management Development For Urban Airspace
Uber announced today that it has signed a Space Act Agreement with NASA for the development of new Unmanned Traffic Management (UTM) concepts and Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) that will enable safe and efficient operations of small UAS at low altitudes. Uber’s participation in NASA’s UTM Project will help the company’s goal of starting demonstration flights of uberAIR in select U.S. cities by 2020. This is Uber’s first partnership with a federal government agency in pursuit of operating a global urban aviation rideshare network.

Uber today also released a video showcasing for the first time what it will be like to to take an uberAIR flight. That video and other visuals are available here.

Uber plans to explore other collaboration opportunities with NASA going forward which will play an important role in opening a new market of urban air mobility. This partnership is part of NASA’s broader UTM effort, which involves many public, academic and private partners.

The National Aeronautics and Space Act provides NASA with the unique authority to enter into Space Act Agreements (SAAs) with partners to advance NASA’s mission and program objectives, allowing the two parties to transfer information and work together on specific objectives. NASA’s Dr. Parimal Kopardekar, who is Senior Technologist for Air Transportation Systems at NASA’s Ames Research Center, will be the focal point leading the collaboration discussion between Uber and NASA.

Under the Agreement, Uber will join a group of industry partners that work with NASA on the development of new UTM concepts and technologies that will enable safe and efficient operations of small UAS at low altitudes. The UTM flight activities, software development, and related air operations and technology demonstrations occur in major ‘Technology Capability Levels (TCL). Uber will focus its collaborative efforts specifically on TCL-4 which is developing requirements and technology demonstrations for urban air operations.

Uber Chief Product Officer Jeff Holden said: “This Space Act Agreement paves the way forward for Uber to collaborate with NASA on the development of next generation airspace management technology. uberAIR will be performing far more flights over cities on a daily basis than has ever been done before. Doing this safely and efficiently is going to require a foundational change in airspace management technologies. Combining Uber’s software engineering expertise with NASA’s decades of airspace experience to tackle this is a crucial step forward for Uber Elevate."

Uber Is Bringing UberAIR To Los Angeles

Los Angeles Selected as One of the First Cities In The World For UberAIR:

Providing Fast, Quiet, And Safe Urban Air Travel

Today, Uber announced it has selected Los Angeles as its second city in the United States for its uberAIR service, with a goal of launching demonstrator flights in 2020. Uber’s Chief Product Officer, Jeff Holden, announced the same at the global Web Summit in Lisbon. As part of its broader Elevate aviation initiative, Uber plans to operate a network of small, electric, aircraft in numerous cities worldwide to enable four-person ridesharing flights in densely populated urban markets. These electric vertical take-off and landing vehicles (eVTOLs) differ from helicopters in that they are orders of magnitude quieter, safer, more affordable, and more environmentally-friendly.

Uber today also released a video showcasing for the first time what it will be like to to take an uberAIR flight. That video and other visuals are available here.

By using data on the most popular Uber routes and freeway traffic, uberAIR will be built to decrease congestion, passenger time spent in transit, and over the long term help contribute to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. Uber’s analysis estimates that an all-electric, 200 mph ride across the skies of Los Angeles will be price competitive with an uberX trip of the same distance. Over the next few years, Uber will be working closely with stakeholders across the city and county to ensure that issues around safety, noise, air space, environmental impacts, and multi-modal transit are addressed. Our goal is for UberAIR to have commercial operations several years ahead of the 2028 Olympics, recently awarded to Los Angeles.

Uber’s second annual Elevate Summit will also be held in Los Angeles in spring 2018. RSVP information is available at uber.com/air which will be updated with additional details as they are announced.

Uber also announced it has signed an agreement with Sandstone Properties to develop Skyport infrastructure to serve as takeoff and landing hubs for uberAIR flights. Sandstone has over 20 strategically-positioned locations in the greater Los Angeles area, all of which are exclusive options for the Uber Elevate Network. With Sandstone, uberAIR can serve riders across Los Angeles International Airport, Downtown LA, Santa Monica, and Sherman Oaks communities. Uber projects that trips from LAX to the Staples Center during rush hour can be reduced from up to 1 hour 20 minutes on the ground to less than 30 minutes with for a multimodal journey including uberX transfers to/from the Skyports and a 4 min flight across LA. Uber expects to form additional relationships with real estate partners in the coming months, establishing more passenger routes as the service takes to the skies.

“Los Angeles has always been a place where innovators come to build new ideas that can change how we live our lives,” said Mayor Eric Garcetti. “L.A. is the perfect testing ground for this new technology, and I look forward to seeing it grow in the coming years.”

Uber Chief Product Officer Jeff Holden said: “We are bringing uberAIR to Los Angeles in no small part because Mayor Garcetti has embraced technology and innovation, making L.A. a hub for the future.  In this case, technology will allow L.A. residents to literally fly over the city's historically bad traffic, giving them time back to use in far more productive ways, whether more leisure time with friends and family or more time to work.  At scale, we expect uberAIR will perform tens of thousands of flights each day across the city - at those levels, all the time savings will have a noticeable positive impact on the region's economy.  By the time the Olympics come in 2028, we believe Los Angeles residents will be making heavy use of UberAIR, showcasing one of the most advanced urban transportation systems to the world, and because uberAIR is all-electric from day one, it will have a net positive impact on the environment."

Earlier this year, at the Elevate Summit in April, Uber announced partnership with the metropolitan area of Dallas, Fort Worth, and Frisco TX, as well as five prominent aviation manufacturers Embraer, Bell Helicopter, Pipistrel, Aurora Flight Sciences, and Mooney Aviation.

Background on Uber Elevate program

Similar to self-driving, Uber does not plan to build VTOL aircrafts but plans to use its technology and existing user network to enable customers in the future to push a button and get a high-speed flight in and around cities.

Already Uber has announced partnerships with five aircraft manufacturers to lead the development of manufacturing VTOLs including Aurora Flight Sciences, Pipistrel Aircraft, Embraer, Mooney and Bell Helicopter.  With extensive aircraft design and production experience, each of these companies brings unique expertise that will enable the shortest time to market for electric VTOLs.

In order to reduce the environmental impact of uberAIR, Uber has committed to electric VTOLs and networks and has partnered with ChargePoint to develop an exclusive charger for Uber Elevate.

Leading the development of the Uber Elevate programme is Uber’s Chief Product officer Jeff Holden as well as NASA veterans Mark Moore and Tom Prevot.

Key Dates

  • October 2016 Uber announces Uber Elevate programme with a White Paper on VTOL
  • February 2017 Uber hires Mark Moore as Director of Engineering for Vehicle Systems
  • April 2017 Uber hosts first Uber Elevate Summit in Dallas
  • July 2017 Uber hires Tom Prevot as Director of Airspace Systems
  • November 2017 Uber showcases uberAIR vision and announces partnership with NASA

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