NASA, the agency that put a man on the moon and inspired a generation with dreams of space exploration, is going to help Uber test flying cars for the obscenely rich in Dallas. The space agency, perhaps freed up by budget cuts to its climate science programs, announced on Tuesday that it will run simulations and other tests for the ride share company to assess the safety issues that could arise from a fleet of air taxis taking to the skies.
NASA will conduct these studies from a research facility at DFW Airport. Uber had previously announced plans to start flight demonstrations in 2020 in Dallas, Los Angeles, and Dubai. It’s looking at 2023 for the start of commercial operations. Here’s a statement from Jaiwon Shin, associate administrator for NASA’s Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate.
“NASA is excited to be partnering with Uber and others in the community to identify the key challenges facing the (flying car) market, and explore necessary research, development and testing requirements to address those challenges. Urban air mobility could revolutionize the way people and cargo move in our cities and fundamentally change our lifestyle much like smartphones have.”
Uber is in the midst of its “Uber Elevate” summit in Los Angeles, the same conference, held last year in Dallas, at which the company first announced its air taxi initiative. Mayor Mike Rawlings won’t be on hand, but Channel 5 reports that he sent a video message along. More details on the program will likely be revealed today at the summit.
The future—elevated sprawl and cluttered superhighway in the sky or exciting airborne transit revolution?—is coming for us.