UberAir looking at self-flying vehicles -- by 2020

Uber plans to launch UberAIR in LA in 2020.                  Uber

Uber plans to launch UberAIR in LA in 2020. Uber

It's an electric autonomous aircraft that can take off and land vertically.

Uber and NASA have signed a Space Act Agreement to formalize their partnership, Jeff Holden, Uber Technologies' chief product officer, said today at the Web Summit in Lisbon, Portugal.

The Uber Elevate plans were also detailed in a video showing a customer travelling by elevator to the Uber Skyport on the roof of her office skyscraper, where her flying cab awaits.

It's no secret that Uber has been eyeing this potential future, indicating that it may launch a low-altitude flying taxi service not dissimilar from its road-based transportation.

Uber contends its analysis estimates that an all-electric, 200 miles per hour ride across the skies of Los Angeles will be price-competitive with an uberX trip of the same distance.

Uber will work with the U.S. space agency to develop software for managing flying taxi routes, Uber's chief product officer Jeff Holden told the Web Summit in Lisbon, Portugal on Wednesday night (AEST).

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The company also announced that it signed a deal with Sandstone Properties - which has 20 sites across the greater Los Angeles area - to build "skyports" to serve as takeoff and drop-off points for flying taxis.

The company wants to have the fast and low-priced service to be ready for commercial operations in L.A. ahead of the 2028 Olympics, according to CNBC. There's also Volocopter, which successfully tested a flying auto in Dubai back in September of this year.

Not factoring in pick up times, the flight across LA could take as little as four minutes, Uber said.

The scheme still faces plenty of challenges, though, including certification of the new vehicle by authorities, pilot training and conceiving urban air traffic management systems.

And, unlike Uber's pricey helicopter service, the rides will be relatively affordable compared with other air travel options (Uber expects fares to be comparable to those of its on-the-ground ride-hailing options).

Earlier this year, Uber hired NASA veterans Mark Moore and Tom Prevot to run, respectively, its aircraft vehicle design team and its air traffic management software program, Reuters reported. In London, it is battling to renew its license after city regulators refused to extend its authorization to operate, citing safety concerns.

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