Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi touts flying cars and ride-hailing company's turnaround


Khosrowshahi's interview with CBS News came in conjunction with today's kickoff of the second annual Uber Elevate summit in Los Angeles, which focuses on Uber's plans to operate fleets of electric-powered, vertical-takeoff-and-landing air taxis. The video depicts a woman booking an UberAir through the app, heading up to an Uber "skyport" at the top of a building, and then sharing her ride with three other passengers while gazing down at the bumper-to-bumper freeway below.

The drone-like prototypes - called the Common Reference Model by Uber - have four rotors on wings, which company officials said would make the aircraft safer than helicopters that fly using one rotor.

"We want to create the network around those vehicles so that regular people can take these taxis in the air for longer distances when they want to avoid traffic at affordable prices", Khosrowshahi told CBS.

Elevate, Uber's light aircraft ridesharing project, announced newly established partnerships with government and private industry groups in the interest of developing the service, USA Today reports.

Uber has shared more details on a flying vehicle that could eventually transport you around cities.

"Achieving ultra-low noise is one of the critical obstacles" to deploying aerial taxis in urban areas, Rob McDonald, head of vehicle engineering for Uber Elevate, the company's flying auto operation, said in an interview. It faces competition from other companies that are working to launch flying taxi services like Airbus, Boeing, and Kitty Hawk, which is backed by Google founder Larry Page.

"The new space act agreement broadening Uber's partnership with NASA is exciting, because it allows us to combine Uber's massive-scale engineering expertise with NASA's decades of subject matter experience across multiple domains that are key to enabling urban air mobility, starting with airspace systems", said Jeff Holden, Uber's chief product officer. And, most recently, the passenger drone startup SureFly succeeded in flying its autonomous two-seater helicopter just three days ago. Batteries with sufficient energy density to work don't exist yet, and Uber asking for them to exist won't help.

Khosrowshahi became the CEO of Uber in August after his predecessor, Travis Kalanick, resigned. Its autonomous auto program has stalled, following a fatal collision with a pedestrian in March. "The change didn't start with me". The first two Uber Air cities will be Dallas and Los Angeles.



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