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Uber wants to fly you to your destination

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There are no limits to where Uber is willing to go in order to serve passengers.

At least that’s the impression the company gives with its latest announcement.

At an international technology conference in Lisbon, Portugal, the ride-hailing company unveiled plans for a flying taxi, according to Associated Press.

The artist’s renderings of the battery-operated vehicle that would be used to offer such a service reveal a visionary machine that looks like a helicopter and a plane mated.

It has both fixed wings and rotors and interior passenger and pilot space that is stylistically akin to a helicopter, albeit with a futuristic edge.

Uber says it hopes to start test flights in 2020, which would be followed by shuttling the first paying customers in cities around the world in 2023.

Why branch into flying customers you ask?

What better way to get around all the traffic snarls plaguing cities around the world. The company hopes their flying taxis will become commonplace in the future and less expensive than operating one’s own car.

But as the Associated Press article pointed out, the plan must first clear many hurdles, among them obtaining certification for the new vehicle by appropriate authorities, training pilots to fly said vehicle and finally, conceiving urban air traffic management systems that will prevent collisions.

Uber has not revealed how much it is investing in this new venture, according to Associated Press.

During an interview with the news organization, Uber Chief Product Officer Jeff Holden said the company is using some of its own money to fund the project, developing software.

Reuters reported that Uber is taking part in a joint industry and government effort with NASA to develop software that the company would use to manage its flying taxi routes. It would work in a similar fashion as the ride-hailing software Uber uses on the ground.

The joint development effort represents the first formal services contract by the U.S. National Aeronautical and Space Administration (NASA) covering low-altitude airspace, Uber said on Wednesday.

Additional investors in the project include aircraft manufacturers that are creating the vehicle and real estate companies developing the skyports where passengers would board their taxi in the sky.

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