No. Not the same thing.
FANS OF Chitty-Chitty Bang-Bang can rejoice as Uber has announced a joint venture with space people NASA to create flying cabs to roll out in 2020.
Project Elevate, which will evolve into UberAIR, has received a boost after signing a Space Act Agreement with NASA to create an air traffic control system to manage the cars which will fly significantly lower than spacecraft, but, ergo, all the more reason to manage the hell out of them.
Uber says the idea of flying cabs is “closer than you think” which is bizarre and slightly unlikely given that we haven’t got drone freight delivery sussed yet.
The company will be testing the service in Los Angeles, Dubai and Dallas-Fort Worth.
So NASA will build the software, in a first for an organisation used to designing systems for use at much, much higher altitudes.
The cabs will travel at 200 miles an hour, meaning you could cross LA within minutes, sans all the smog.
Except, in reality, it’s not that simple. You need suitable rooftops for landing pads. You need regulatory approval from local civil aviation authorities and quite often the leaseholders of the “air”. Take London’s Canary Wharf for example. The entire estate is covered by ownership of a tenancy to the airspace above the buildings on the skyline. That’s a lot of red tape.
But must of all, you need flying cars that can take off and land vertically and carry you and your Aldi shop safely. And here’s the thing. They don’t exist yet, beyond industry rumours that Larry Page at Google has a production facility making them.
Suddenly three years sounds a bit out of reach.
Uber’s chief product officer Jeff Holden will give more details of Elevate at Web Summit in Lisbon this week, including news of new alliances forged with manufacturers and other partners, because although the ideas seem implausible, they’re not impossible and there are dozens of aerospace, car and tech companies that want to be in on the bottom rung.
Uber has been falling to earth with a bump recently with profits down and their lift share market share losing out to rival Lyft. µ
Source : Inquirer