Uber unveils flying taxi models

May 8 (UPI) — Uber unveiled models of its flying taxi Tuesday at its Uber Elevate Summit in Los Angeles.

Uber is partnering with NASA to develop the air taxi service as a way to way to cut down commute times and reduce pollution.

“We think cities are going to go vertical in terms of transportation and we want to make that a reality,” Dara Khosrowshahi told CBS News.

Customers could access the service via a phone app similar to the ground taxi service, Khosrowshahi said.

The plan is to launch a demo and testing program in 2020 with ride sharing for customers by 2028.

The flying taxis, which takeoff vertically and land at ports on rooftops or on the ground, will fly between 1,000 to 2,000 feet above ground at speeds up to 200 mph, according to an Uber white paper. The vehicles resemble helicopters, but are quieter with four prop rotors on each wing and electric propulsion to cut down on emissions.

Uber estimates the price of using air taxis would be 50 cents per mile compared to 35 cents per ground mile.

“Imagine traveling from San Francisco’s marina to work in downtown San Jose — a drive that would normally occupy the better part of two hours — in only 15 minutes,” the paper states.

The taxis will be manned by a pilot first with the goal for the planes to eventually fly autonomously.

Uber faces competition from California-based Kitty Hawk developers’ future air taxi supported by tech investor Larry Page.

The Kitty Hawk model, called Cora — unveiled in March — also resembles a helicopter with less noise and flies up to 110 mph with flights 3,000 feet above ground.

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