NASA Signs Space Act Agreement with Uber

Government agency will help urban transportation company develop traffic management systems.

Ground transportation giant Uber has partnered with NASA through a Space Act Agreement to figure out how to safely introduce its concept of transporting urban travelers by air. UberAir plans to use light, VTOL vehicles to quickly whisk passengers from one location to another, bypassing the gridlock of traffic that has become the norm in many large cities. NASA is helping develop traffic management systems for this new concept of air taxi. The agreement was announced at the Web Summit in Lisbon, Portugal.

Jeff Holden, Uber's chief product officer, claims that UberAir will be fully operational by 2023 through an option on the Uber app, allowing travelers to book flights along with ground transportation. Uber plans to launch a test phase of UberAir in Dallas and Los Angeles in 2020.

The company is not planning on building its own airplanes. Holden said Uber is working with five different manufactures right now to develop a viable platform for UberAir. One of those companies is Slovenian light aircraft manufacturer Pipistrel.

It is not clear as of yet whether the UberAir vehicles will be manned or unmanned. The platforms that would be able to support this type of air taxi concept would also need to be approved by the FAA, a process that will likely take more than two years.