Uber announced on Nov. 8 that it had 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 aid the company in conducting demonstration flights of UberAIR in two US cities by 2020. This is Uber’s first partnership with a federal government agency in its pursuit of operating a global urban aviation rideshare network. NASA’s Dr. Parimal (“PK”) Kopardekar, senior technologist for air transportation systems at NASA’s Ames Research Center, will lead the collaboration discussion between Uber and NASA.
At the same time, Uber released a video of the UberAIR passenger experience. The video included footage of the company’s reference aircraft design (shown above).
The company also announced that it had selected Los Angeles as the second US location (after Dallas/Ft. Worth) for its UberAIR service. Uber’s second annual Elevate Summit will also be held in Los Angeles in spring 2018. Uber said that by using data on its most popular 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 said that over the next few years, it will work closely with stakeholders across the Los Angeles area to ensure that issues around safety, noise, air space, environmental impacts, and multi-modal transit are addressed.
Uber also signed an agreement with Sandstone Properties to develop “Skyport” infrastructures 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.