Uber Teams with NASA on ‘Flying Car’ Project

Nov 9, 2017

By Mike Wall

Uber’s planned “flying cars” will navigate crowded city skies with some help from NASA, if everything goes according to plan.

The space agency has signed an agreement with Uber to help develop an air-traffic-control system for the flying-car project, which goes by the name Uber Elevate or UberAir, according to USA Today.

“UberAir will be performing far more flights over cities on a daily basis than has ever been done before,” Uber Chief Product Officer Jeff Holden said in a statement provided to USA Today. “Doing this safely and efficiently is going to require a foundational change in airspace-management technologies.”

NASA has already been working to develop such technologies and help make “urban air mobility” (UAM) a reality, agency officials have said. In 2011, the agency’s Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate (ARMD) started a project called Unmanned Aircraft Systems Integration in the National Airspace System (UAS in the NAS), which focused on relatively large, uncrewed vehicles flying above 500 feet (150 meters).

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4 comments on “Uber Teams with NASA on ‘Flying Car’ Project

  • @OP – “Doing this safely and efficiently is going to require a foundational change in airspace-management technologies.”

    It is certainly going to be challenging! The restrictions on low flying in urban areas are not just about terrorist threats.

    Gusting winds swirling around buildings make nearby flights hazardous.


    The City of London is promising that high-rise buildings will be monitored to ensure they don’t make conditions unbearably windy in surrounding streets. But why do skyscrapers have this effect and what can be done to alleviate it?

    The wind is often much more intense around the base of the tower.

    And the growth in high-rise structures is generating more concerns. The City of London Corporation has promised a more “rigorous” assessment of developers’ predictions of ground winds, following complaints about strong gusts outside the 20 Fenchurch Street Building, better known as the Walkie Talkie.

    “I almost got blown over the other day walking up past the building,” a sales assistant working nearby said earlier this year. “When I got around the corner it was fine. I was scared to go back.”

    Toronto in Canada has suggested bringing in by-laws to ensure planning for skyscrapers takes into account the risk of street winds.

    In Leeds, 35-year-old Edward Slaney was crushed after strong winds toppled a lorry near the 32-storey Bridgewater Place, the city’s tallest building, in 2011. This was one of several incidents, some resulting in injuries, reported to the council.

    Accelerated winds near skyscrapers are caused by the “downdraught effect”, says Nada Piradeepan, an expert on wind properties at engineering consultancy firm Wintech. This happens where the air hits a building and, with nowhere else to go, is pushed up, down and around the sides. The air forced downwards increases wind speed at street level.

    There is also an acceleration of wind around the side of the buildings if it has completely square corners.

    And, if several towers stand near each other, there is an effect known as “channelling”, a wind acceleration created by air having to be squeezed through a narrow space. This is a form of the Venturi effect, named after the 18th-19th Century Italian scientist Giovanni Battista Venturi.

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  • skepticj #2
    Nov 10, 2017 at 4:42 pm

    Source – Live Science

    It looks like Live Science forgot to be scientific in their checking and investigations!

    @link – So no new news on the software front…

    So, er, no new news on the hardware front either…

    So. Um. No new news on the licensing front?

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  • Just when we’re getting eco-transport options really sorted…this.

    I hope eco-regulations kill this quickly before it… er…. gets off the ground.

    Expect 5 to 10 mpg.

    Electric will never make safe sense given the energy needed per mile and bio kerosene may reduce CO2 impact but will cause an appalling degradation in city air quality, for the benefit of a rich few.

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