Uber revealed its plans to take the skies with new aircraft concepts while announcing new partnerships at its ongoing 2nd Annual Elevate Summit. According to the announcement the company is working on launching “world’s first urban aviation network.” This summit comes almost six months after the company announced that Los Angeles will be the first city in the United States for the launch of UberAIR.
Uber added that it plans to start launching demonstrations for flights by 2020 while targeting commercial trips by 2023. Jeff Holden, Chief Product Officer for Uber added, “ Today, Uber’s annual Elevate Summit took flight to showcase the aviation industry’s advancements on many fronts needed to make uberAIR a reality by 2023.” He went on to add, “This gargantuan effort to ‘push a button and get a flight’ can only be accomplished through close partnership across the public and private sectors, and that’s exactly what Elevate Summits are all about.”
According to the announcement, Uber will not build the vehicles and instead, opt to partner with existing players in the industry to manufacture “vertical take-off and landing” (VTOL) air crafts for the uberAIR network. The company showcased new reference model that will fly at a speed of 150-200 miles per hours at more than 1,000 feet above the ground. The reference sports a four electric propeller setup similar to a traditional drone instead of a single rotor setup used in helicopters.
The company added that this setup will make its air crafts safer and quieter in comparison to helicopters. Uber announced that it will be partnering with a number of vehicle makers including Embraer, Pipistrel, and Karem. Embraer took this opportunity to showcase its first VTOL model, the Embraer X along with a new concept model by Pipistrel. Private companies were not the only ones ruling the circuit as Uber will team up with U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command, Army Research Lab.
The company signed a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) and a Joint Work Statement (JWS). This would include funding and research development for a “first stacked co-rotating propeller”. This will be a new concept where two rotors will be placed on top of each other while rotating in the same direction for a “significantly quieter” flying craft.
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Uber also announced a partnership with E-OneMoli for a new battery technology for battery packs for electric VTOL vehicles (eVTOL). The E-OneMoli team will work closely with Uber’s battery pack lead by Celina Mikolajczak. ChargePoint, a leading and “most open electric vehicle (EV) charging network” revealed its concept design for the two megawatts, high-powered charging charger for eVTOLs, semi-trucks and other electric aircrafts.
Last but not the least, Uber also announced second “Space Act” agreement with NASA. According to the agreement, NASA’s research in Urban Air Mobility (UAM) concept and technologies will generate data necessary for the creation of standards for the urban aviation industry and other Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) rules and regulations.