One of the most iconic future promises will soon be within reach as Uber plans to bring its on-demand flying taxis to Los Angeles. To do this, the ride-sharing service has recruited the help of NASA saying that its first demonstration of a flying car is only three years away.
At the recent Lisbon Web Summit Wednesday, the company announced its plans to build a network of flying taxis within L.A. by 2020. According to chief product officer Jeff Holden, NASA already signed an agreement to develop a specialized air traffic control system for the vehicles.
"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," Holden said. "At scale, we expect UberAir will perform tens of thousands of flights each day across the city."
With this announcement, L.A. joins Dallas-Fort Worth, and Dubai in the list of cities Uber plans to launch its new flying car project, dubbed "Elevate." To give people a glimpse of what Elevate has to offer, the company released a video demonstrating how the service will work.
The clip shows a woman booking a flight through the Uber app and heads to a "skyport" on the roof of a nearby building. Her phone is scanned after which she is allowed to pass through a turnstile and notifies her of which boarding pad to enter.
She boards her flying taxi and takes off, with the ability to monitor her destination time and pilot, she glances down to the traffic below. The video ends with the tagline: "Closer than you think."
But can the ride-sharing service really roll out Elevate in three years time? After all, the company has yet to develop vehicles that can utilize vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) technology. This is in addition to the infrastructure needed such the skyport featured in the demonstration.
The beleaguered commuters of L.A. can only hope so as it can drastically cut travel time when compared to a traditional ride through the streets. The company plans to have its fly-sharing service in place by the 2020 Olympics in order for the attendees to marvel at the sight of motorists floating above them in the City of Angels.