Uber to take to the skies with 'flying cars'

Uber kicks off a three-day conference on "flying cars" Tuesday in Dallas, an elaborate show of force as the ride-hailing company seeks to nail down a spot at the forefront of the fast-growing industry.

The announcement came at a summit held in the Dallas area with partners in the project.

As part of Uber's partnership with Dubai's Road and Transport Authority, the two entities will conduct a study on things like pricing and potential VTOL routes.

Dallas-Fort Worth residents and visitors could soon skip traffic and travel across the area via aircraft.

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"I hate that term, but we'll have to live with it", the company's chief product officer, Jeff Holden, said at the Uber Elevate Summit in Dallas. Benefits conveyed by the widespread deployment of such a system, according to Uber, include congestion reduction, time savings and overall lower infrastructure costs compared with ground-based transportation. In February, the ride-hailing company hired NASA researcher Mark Moore as its director of engineering for aviation.

At least at first, it won't work quite the same as the auto network, with pickups happening at any location. It has signed contracts (or is in the midst of contract negotiations) with five aircraft manufacturers to work on the design and production of lightweight, electrically powered vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) aircraft.

Uber has transformed hundreds of cities around the world with its cheap, rapid taxi service - and the next step will be to conquer the skies. Airbus SE has proposed several different concepts for vertical takeoff vehicles, and the government of Dubai is joining with China's EHang to bring closed-top passenger drones to the city.

It's all very ambitious, especially considering the troubles that Uber has had as of late. Most recently, the New York Times reported that in 2014, Uber CEO Travis Kalanick got a jolly good telling off from Apple boss Tim Cook.

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Dallas and Dubai will be the locations for putting plans into action, and in the U.S. it is working with a developer to create four vertaports for the vehicles to land and take off from by the end of the year. Both models would require a runway and a pilot's license.

Uber is also looking at Mooney and Bell Helicopter.

Slovakia-based AeroMobil on Thursday unveiled its latest model flying vehicle at an auto show in Monaco and started accepting pre-orders.

So there you have it.

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Dubai has already expressed ample interest in a number of advanced transportation projects, including other flying cars and Hyperloop, and has been able to put up financial resources to support its ambitions.


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