Uber closer to launching flying car service

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Uber is hoping to launch a flying taxi service in Los Angeles within the next five years. (KABC)

Urban aviation in Los Angeles is closer than you think, and Uber is showing us what it might look like.

Using your Uber app, you'll be able to show up at a sky-port near you and fly to work in what Uber calls "vertical take off and landing" aircraft, or VTOLs, that will travel more than 1,000 feet above the ground at speeds of 150-200 mph.

Matt Wing, Uber's head of communication for advanced technologies, says, "we really want to show the people of Los Angeles what will it be like in 2023 when we launch this for real, when you can push a button, get a flight and cruise over the traffic as opposed to waiting inside it."

The ride-sharing company unveiled its latest research and plans at the second annual Uber Elevate Summit this week.

The two-day conference brings together leaders in the aviation and technology industries as well as government stakeholders that Uber says will help them figure out the safe and right way to deploy uberAIR.

NASA is among those government stakeholders. Uber announced NASA will help create industry standards, route paths, and FAA rules and procedures for the new mode of transportation. Meantime, aircraft manufacturers at the summit displayed prototypes of the VTOLs they're developing.

According to Wing, Uber's goal is, "that it's got to be quiet, it's got to be environmentally sound and conscious, 100 percent emission-free, and it's got to be affordable."

Uber envisions building future sky-ports, most of them on existing buildings, that will facilitate air travel throughout Los Angeles and Orange Counties. The aircraft will transport four passengers at a time.

Wing says, "at the beginning the prices will be similar to what we had with Uber Black, which is a more luxury service, but over time and at scale, we estimate that when you take an uberAIR trip, it'll be roughly the same price as an Uber X trip of the same distance."

Uber plans to start flight demonstrations in Los Angeles by 2020, and launch commercial flights by 2023.
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