Uber unveils plans for flying auto network by 2020

Five MIT graduates founded Terrafugia in 2006. Their proof of concept vehicle was first flown and driven in 2009

There's a small catch, however, to Uber's ultimate goal of creating a flying vehicle taxi network. These will have zero emissions and are quiet enough to operate in cities.

The announcement came a day after Silicon Valley "flying car" startup Kitty Hawk, reportedly backed by Google co-founder Larry Page, released a video of its airborne prototype and announced plans for deliveries of a "personal flying machine" this year. Anyone else finding this all a bit suspish?

But Uber customers have said the plan seems more science fiction than science fact.

Well, if anyone can do it, it's probably Travis Kalanick. The flying cars need to be certified before we put them into commercial operations.

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Somewhat ironically, Holden said Uber also would bring its expertise on working with government and communities, because it already has relationships with regulatory authorities.

Uber is working with Hillwood Properties to develop four "vertiports" to handle the flying taxis in Dallas, starting next year, Holden said.

For that matter, plenty of observers noted that Uber may be relieved to have a chance to focus on futuristic visions instead of the present controversies engulfing it, such as a lawsuit over its self-driving vehicle project and accusations of toxic workplace culture and sexism. The San Francisco company said it's partnering with a handful of aircraft manufacturers and real estate firms, as well as with ChargePoint Inc.to lay an electric charging network.

Uber is calling its project the Uber Elevate Network (get it?).

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Uber thinks that buying flying automobiles is important to safeguarding its company, and pictures full-blown operations of a flying auto network introducing in 2023. USA electric vehicle charging station maker ChargePoint will work on an exclusive charger for Uber's network, while Bell Helicopter, Aurora, Pipistrel, Mooney, and Embraer will develop the flying taxis.

Uber first revealed its intentions to build a system of flying cars in a white paper last fall.

"Unlike the normal taxi service I doubt it will be door-to-door, because the vehicles will probably only be allowed to land in certain areas for safety reasons, which means you might not go exactly where you want to".

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